Tuesday, November 04, 2008

To my grandchildren

When Barack Obama became a front-runner in the Democratic nomination race I was worried. I admired him so much, but I was so afraid that America wasn't ready to elect an African American president. After he won the nomination I told your great-grandfather that I wanted to believe that he would be elected, but I just couldn't quite believe it would happen.

You need to understand that in 2000 and 2004 I thought and hoped that the candidate I supported would win, and to my shock a person I did not think was qualified in the most basic sense won instead. As we got closer and closer to the election in 2008 poll after poll showed that Barack Obama was going to win. It might seem silly to you when you read about it in the history books, but none of us could allow ourselves believe it. At work when I sometimes said that I thought Obama was going to win, my colleagues would shush me. We joked about how superstitious we were, but saying it, saying that he might win felt like it was tempting fate. We just couldn't allow ourselves to quite believe.

But we voted. I voted early when there was no line. Your grandfather voted the day before election day and stood for an hour in a line that went around the elections office waiting to vote.

And then on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, we sat and watched the television while the results came in. I knew Obama was going to win, and as more and more states were called it became more obvious. Still, when they made the announcement "Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America" I started crying. I sat in my favorite chair, in my ripped pajamas and cried. I cried for joy.

I think he will be a good president, but you might have a better idea about that than I do now. You will know what he did. Right now I think he probably will be. It is a tough time to become president, but I think he will do a good job. That made me glad that he was president, but that isn't what made me cry with joy.

I don't know if I can explain to you how proud of my country it made me that we elected the first African American president. I think I hope that you read this and think that I was silly. I hope that in some ways you don't understand why it was such a big deal. But for us, it was a big deal. It was one of the biggest best things that has happened in my lifetime.

It is not so wonderful because Barack Obama is so wonderful, although I think he is a pretty amazing guy. What is so amazing, wonderful, joyful is that we elected him.

We allowed ourselves to believe and hope for a better world.

I hope we gave it to you.

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