Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Yes he can... He did... He has... And, hopefully, he will!

Wow. What a day. We've witnessed history... and I can't believe how moved I have been by Barack Obama's election. I wept! It truly feels a momentous occasion in the world's history - and I'm really shocked that I'm finding it to be so dramatic.

It does feel as though change such as the Kennedy's' brought has returned - or, as my mum said, actually a lot bigger (she was in the US in the 60's, and we also lived there when I was a kid).

I found much of his acceptance speech truly moving. A couple of excerpts:

...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.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. ...

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores... our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from ... the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

And Obama also mentioned a woman 106 years old who'd voted today. What was so moving here was how the crowd, hundreds of thousands of them, responded with great cries of 'Yes we can!'.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the colour of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbour and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. ...

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time... out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can.

Well, indeed he can. What a speech!

This is an amazing day, and Obama appears to be an amazing man. Let's hope this is indeed the case and he can turn things around for the US and therefore for much of the world. He has a pretty big workload ahead of him! He has to dig the US out of a major hole.
But now, to see an African-American man and his family up on that stage - a black President and First Lady - to see them in that position... to have this actually, finally happen... makes it seem as though much is possible, so hopefully it will continue and that Yes He Can.

(And thanks Penni for the link to some of these photos.)