I am so proud of America on the day after the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. The arc of American history is a movement towards greater freedom, greater definition of the rights of our citizens, and a more democratic government that is more representative of the people. This is what we struggled for in the 1960's when members of my generation marched for equal rights of all Americans, what we worked for as we joined the Peace Corps to serve our country, and what we hoped for as we listened to Martin Luther King speak: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."
America truly is a "shining city on a hill" as Ronald Reagan said. It is not a nation built on ethnicity or geographical location - it is a nation built on the ideas espoused in the Declaration of Independence. As each generation re-interprets those ideas and extends them, we form "our more perfect union." As Obama said "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
The next few years will not be easy. The challenges facing our nation are daunting. But at least now we can begin to address them. As Jack Kennedy said "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Photos: American Flag Flickr Creative Commons by Billie / PartsnPieces Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic
Obama Flickr Creative Commons by BohPhoto Attribution 2.0 Generic