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A historic day [By Boomer] by χ∂єωραωχ
January 20, 2009, 10:08 pm
Filed under: SheilaGally.com

On most occasions, I would prefer to keep politics off the site, but today is not an ordinary occasion.  Today, the United States elected its 44th President in its history.  What makes this Inauguration Day so special is that for the first time, the President-elect was an African-American.  This historic event finally proves the progressiveness of the United States.  Just 40 years ago, the United States was engulfed in racial tension.  Blacks and whites were segregated in nearly every public place.  Just 40 years ago, a black man could be refused from a restaurant because of his color.  Now, a black man stands in the highest office in the World.  The United States has come a long way from then, to be able to look past the color of a man’s skin and see the true person underneath.

I first saw Barack Obama speak nearly two years ago to a Chicago crowd on a chilly February day.  The occasion was to announce his candidacy for President of the United States.  It was obvious to anyone viewing that Barack Obama was a tremendous public speaker; however, I saw something more in him.  There was something about him that struck me.  He seemed to exude a certain charisma, and a sharp intellect.  Starting with that speech, I honestly believed I was watching the next President of the United States.

It seems so long ago now.  The candidate that no one seemed to give a chance.  A Junior Senator from Illinois, with minimal Senate experience, facing two much more experienced Senators, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.  After his victory in the Iowa caucus, he started to gain support.  Maybe this guy has a shot.

After a long, strenuous campaign against Hillary Clinton, one of the shrewdest minds in politics, Obama prevailed, though many were still uncertain how he would fair against the Republican nominee John McCain, one of the most experienced and respected members of the U.S. Senate.  One of Obama’s weaknesses, his lack of experience, was attacked often by the Republican ticket.  However, as the economy plummeted, so did faith in John McCain.  Barack Obama capitalized on the opportunity, creating a comprehensive economic stimulus plan within a week, while John McCain argued that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were strong.

Support for Obama continued to grow, and when Election Day came around, the Obama ticket brought out voters who had not voted in years, as well as an unprecedented number of the young generation.  After a thorough victory over John McCain, Obama moved quickly to name his cabinet members.  His selection of Hilary Clinton for Secretary of State received praise from both parties, as well as many of his other nominees, including re-nominating President Bush’s pick, Robert Gates, to the position of Secretary of Defense.

As Inauguration Day approached, Barack Obama continued to have one of the highest approval ratings of a new President in the United States’ history; nearly 70 percent of the country believes that he will turn the country around.  His Inauguration Day parade shattered previous records for turnout.  Nearly 2.5 million people turned out in bitter cold weather to watch the historic event unfold.  To put that in perspective, that’s more than twice the next largest inauguration ceremony, belonging to Lyndon Johnson, as well as more than both President Bush’s and President Clinton’s Inaugurations.  It also surpasses the number of people at the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies’ parade quite handily.

As I watched the Inauguration of President Obama on TV today, I was overcome with a sense of nationalism, pride for the United States of America as I have not felt in a long time.  You could tell that many people felt the same.  As I looked at the faces in the crowd, overcome by emotion over this momentous achievement, I could not help but think how much this means to the United States, primarily the African-American population.  It has been a long time coming.  It is about time that the United States, a patchwork of people from dozens of countries and religions, had a President who represents more than just the elite white male.  This is a President of the people.  No President in history has gained the support of the nation quite like Barack Obama.  People turned out in the masses at every one of his speeches.  Obama set a record for campaign funds, the majority of which came in small donations from the middle and lower classes, a stark difference from the usual large donations from a candidate’s wealthy friends.  This election set a record for voter turnout, and no President has received more votes than President Obama.  People will stay say that he does not have the experience to lead this country.  Personally, that does not really bother me.  People said the same thing of another President, Abraham Lincoln, and I think he turned out to be a pretty darn good President.  All we need is a President who can make the right decisions.  One image that will always last in my mind, is that of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was present at the time of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  To see the joy on his face and the tears in his eyes during then President-elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech are something that I will never forget.  All I could think to myself was “finally, this is America.”

I am overjoyed to see the rejoicing of people all around the world, signifying a change well overdue.  Here’s to hoping that Barack Obama can turn this nation around.  After all, with a trillion dollar deficit, multiple wars, and the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, can we really afford not to?



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