Where Were You When You Heard the US Had Elected Its First African American President Barack Obama?
There is no doubt that yesterday’s US presidential election was a historic event. No matter who you supported in the race, the fact that Americans elected a multiracial president is a significant event in a country where African Americans were once slaves. It is an event that will be remembered for generations around the world, and people will remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard Barack Obama was the President-Elect of the United States of America.
I voted by absentee ballot, as there are no polling places in my tiny, mountain community. On election day, I was headed home from a quick trip to Seal Beach, CA. In order to avoid traffic, my twelve hour drive home began at 4:30 am. As I drove by McCain/Palin signs in Republican Orange County and the vast farm lands of I-5, I began to doubt an Obama victory. We listened to talk radio, from conservative to liberal stations on the satellite, before finally setting on the BBC. Hearing callers from around the world share their excitement and hope that Obama would win, I was moved at how this man has reached out to the world with the same message of hope and change he has given the American people.
When we arrived home and turned on the TV, the polls had just closed on the east coast. As the states started turning blue, I became more excited. My four-year-old son started doing the movements for O-H-I-O, common at Buckeye football games, when Obama won the state of Joe the Plumber. We bounced between CNN, the Daily Show, the networks, and Fox News to get a variety of information. On Fox News, I was abhorred to hear the announcer say voters reported race was a factor in their vote for Obama, but that exit polls showed McCain won votes amongst people who didn’t care about race. The announcer implied Barack only won because of his race alone. His race does give this election historical significance, but his policies, intelligence, ideals, etc. are what got him elected. Exhausted from our trip, I waited for the polls to close on the west coast. At 8:01 PM, Obama was announced the winner, and I went to bed. As I slept, Obama told the world:
This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.
Obama has impassioned voters with promises of hope and change. Not only is this election significant because of race, but this will be a turning point in US history. The US may just become a country where the “American Dream” means economic equality and health care for all, instead of a place where the rich majority takes advantage of the working class. America may become the world leader in peace and human rights, as well as solving climate change and energy issues. Not only did Obama win last night, but the environment won too. President-Elect Obama, I have a lot of hope in your administration…don’t let me down. Today is the first day in almost eight years that I have felt proud to be an American.
Unlike tragic events, such as the bombing of the World Trade Center or when JFK was shot, this election is a historical memory to cherish. So where were you at this defining moment in US history?
Image: Huffington Post