Photo from today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online.
Song lyrics often pop into my head in response to things I see or hear, and this morning, as I tried to awaken from a night's rest that was not nearly long enough, The Pointer Sisters' "I'm so excited" kept playing in my head. I'm excited about the possibilities for our country and our people as a whole. Things in my life haven't changed simply because Obama was elected. I'm still most likely losing my job at the end of this year, my brother is still undergoing dialysis and awaiting a kidney transplant, my father's tumor turned out to be cancer and I'm still waiting for further news on that front, but my country saw beyond racial barriers and made history. My children live in a better world today and unfortunate events in my life are now easier to bear because of it.
As I drove into work this morning, so many things just seemed perfect for this occasion: fog near my house gave way to sunny skies and Creed's song "With Arms Wide Open" came on the radio. I'm not a Creed fan, but the opening lines of the song are amazingly fitting:
"Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I close my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face"
Last night, as I eagerly watched the election returns, I was unbelievably proud of my country. As it became clear that Obama had a victory, tears of joy continuously streamed down my face. Perhaps not quite as forcefully as those streaming down the Reverend Jesse Jackson's face, but they streamed just the same. As McCain stood before his supporters and made his concession speech, I was impressed by his graciousness, his attitude, and his call for unity. I stayed awake far later than I should have and am unbelievably tired this morning, but I got to watch Obama's speech live, and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I feel like America has taken a huge, positive step forward and although I know change won't happen overnight I am optimistic about our future. The world has changed overnight, and for the better!
As President (elect) Barack Obama said, "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there."
As Obama spoke, I was all the more impressed as he said, "I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. And I will be your president, too." Even if you didn't vote for Obama, I hope that you realize what a momentous occasion this is on so many levels. Not only did an African American become president for the first time in America's history but record numbers of people actually exercised their right to vote. After years of cynicism, the American public as a whole believed. They believed in change. They believed in a better America - a better future for our children. They believed that their voice would be heard and that they could make a difference. And they were right! I just hope, as this country moves forward, we are all able to come together to work toward the common goal of improving our country. I, and I hope many others like me, will try to follow Obama's example as he graciously accepted his victory and claimed it, not for himself, but for all of us.
As Obama remarked last night at the end of his speech, "God Bless America" I thought it was incredibly fitting. This time, the words mean so much more and I believe God truly has blessed America with the results of this election tonight.