Saturday, January 3, 2009

What January 20 Means to Me

On January 20, the world will bear witness to the most significant presidential inauguration since George Washington took the first oath of office in 1789. This day will mark the culmination of half a century of fighting for equal rights, and the beginning of a new age of equality in America. It will be the end of an era of fear, and the start of an era of hope. Barack Obama will face an array of domestic and international challenges, but he brings with him the promise of a more progressive plan for ensuring the continuing success of our nation.

It is clear how significant this inauguration is to the country at large. But that leaves the question of what it means to me personally. When I cast my vote on November 4, I did so with anticipation coursing through my body. With Obama having gained momentum in the polls during the previous month, I knew that this time, for the first time, I was likely voting for the winner. The idea that the candidate who I had supported with donations, volunteer time, and enthusiastic writing was on the verge of winning the presidency was a thrilling thought. The economy in a tailspin, foreign relations tense, and equal rights once again a divisive issue—the time was ripe for someone with a broad and measured worldview to rise up and do something. For me, Obama was this man.

As the youngest president since Kennedy, he is the voice of a new generation. A generation that is technologically savvy, comfortable with people from different backgrounds, and conversant in the international language of the 21st century. I consider Obama, a biracial man born in Hawaii and raised in Indonesia, to represent me better than any other candidate who ran for president this year. His victory has reinvigorated my interest in politics, and has got me rethinking my current advertising career path in favor of something more beneficial to society. This is the power Obama has; to inspire a generation to action in the same way JFK did, to bridge all sorts of demographic barriers and bring citizens together.

I have no doubt Obama is the right man for this delicate time, and for the future. He listens carefully, he speaks carefully, and I am confident he will govern carefully. To say I am excited about the next four years is an understatement; though America and the world face many urgent problems, I feel we are at a turning point in history, beyond which we will emerge stronger, wiser, and more united. On January 20, I will be immensely proud to call Obama my president.

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