Watching History as it Happens
January 27, 2009
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For what I can think to be only the third time in my life, I went through the entire day on Jan. 20 acknowledging it as its own chapter in a future history book. September 11, 2001, when I sat in my science class as an announcement was made to report to homeroom for a meeting with my peers, was the first time I felt this way, followed by the bombing on my birthday that, to me, began the Iraq War. And last week, the fifty-sixth Inauguration of the President of the United States of America, where the first black president–Barack Obama–took the oath of office on the steps of the capital.
My freshmen year at UNH was the first time I had heard of then-Senator Obama. Just days later I took a liking to the man and began to jump on his bandwagon. Weeks later I began to write editorials about him in this very publication, The Charger Bulletin, and months later I began working on his grassroots campaign.
Today I am proud of Americans, of my friends, and even of myself. I’ve won scratch off tickets before, I’ve won small raffles. But I’ve never won something invaluable: a piece of history.
One of the most touching moments of the Inauguration Day was during the inaugural parade. During Obama’s second time leaving his limo and walking on the street (huge kudos to the Secret Service for a peaceful day, by the way), I heard people on the sidelines not shouting “Obama! Obama!,” not shouting “Yes We Can” or “Yes We Did,” but instead shouting “thank you.” And it was then that it hit me: Obama may want to thank us for electing him, but that will in no way equate to us thanking him for a feeling of hope and freedom yet again. “Proud to be an American” was, undoubtedly, one of the most prominent phrases coming out of that day, and with very good reason.
I can rest well for at least a little while, knowing that my peers and I made a difference with registering students to vote last year, and with running absentee ballot drives. I can rest well tonight, knowing that we were able to persuade–with logic, not popularity–the majority of our friends and family to vote for Obama, if they hadn’t already persuaded themselves to. I can rest well, knowing that Jan. 20 is a day I will never forget. A day that will forever be in our history. A day where perhaps, if we’re lucky, America will get its good reputation back. I think we’re all done being the bad guys. Let’s be role models again.