Today will be a proud day in the history of the United States, for today American voters all across the nation will once and for all bury the burden of bigotry that has blighted our national consciousness for hundreds of years. Whether one wishes to date the origin of the country to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the defeat of the British Army at Yorktown in 1781, or the ratification of the Constitution in 1786, it is clear that we as a people have for far too long failed to live up to the ideals and principles embodied in our national creed.
Today the simple, but awe-inspiring words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal...” will resonate with such meaning, passion and force so as to stir every heart across our great land. Today millions of American voters in big cities and tiny hamlets will go to the polls and strike a fatal blow to the last vestiges of discrimination and prejudice that have soiled the fabric of our nation since its inception. They will do this by electing a proud African-American, Barak Obama, to the Office of President of the United States. It has been a long time in coming since he will be the 44th occupant of that high office.
I am glad that I am alive to witness this historic day.
This is not just a day for black Americans to celebrate; it is a day for all Americans regardless of race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation to feel pride in the history that is being made. Make no mistake about it; what is happening today is not simply an ordinary, mundane political or historical event. No, today is one of those rare watershed events that will change the course of history forever. Future generations will regard this day as momentous, and our generation is the one that will be forever honored as not only the witnesses to history, but the makers of history. What will happen today is no less significant in the annuls of America’s history than other great moments, like the defeat of the South and the abolition of slavery in the Civil War in 1865, the enfranchisement of black men for the first time in 1866, the enfranchisement of women in 1921, the defeat of Nazism in 1945, the survival of our constitutional form of government during the Watergate crisis in 1972, the landing on the moon in 1969 and the sad and tragic events of September 11, 2001. Just as each generation which has lived through both great and catastrophic moments in our nation’s history were inspired or traumatized by what they witnessed, so too will it be true for those of us living today. We will never forget the history that will be made on November 4, 2008...and history will never forget us.
As an Ameranian (one parent American/one parent Iranian), I am particularly happy to be a witness to what is about to happen. For generations, stories have been passed down through my father’s family from generation to generation about one in our family that fought in the war to end slavery. In the middle of the Civil War, my great-great-great grandfather ran away from his home in Sunbury, Pennsylvania to join the Union Army. He was a fifteen year old boy at the time, and he had to lie about his age to get into the Army. During the war he participated in many battles and saw his many of his closest friends and comrades bleed and die for the cause of freedom. He lived to tell the stories of courage, sacrifice, bloodshed and death to his grandson who would one day grow-up to be my dad’s grandfather. My dad’s grandfather told my dad that one day when his old grandfather (the Civil War vet.) was well into his eighties, he told him that all the bloodshed and sacrifice they had endured had been in vain since the dream of freedom which they had sacrificed so much for many years earlier had gone unfulfilled.
Today, almost a century and a half since the end of that great and terrible war, America’s voters are finally vindicating the blood and sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of her sons who fought long, long ago, so all men could be free. Today, by elevating an African American to lead our nation we are proclaiming that all their spilt blood and youthful death wasn’t in vain. Today, our nation and our people are fulfilling the dream that they gave their lives for. Today, we as a nation are finally living up to our creed. I am no idealist in thinking all our problems will suddenly disappear, but I do know that once we as a people cross this bridge, we will never go back…as well we shouldn’t.
My mother, an immigrant from Iran, came to this country like millions of others in search of the freedom that they were denied in their beloved homeland. Like millions of others, she was met here with hatred and bigotry. Like with so many others before us, America failed to always live up to her lofty ideals when Iranians first came. My mother’s bitter experiences informed her skewed beliefs about America for many years. When I was about seven I remember asking her if I could grow up to be the president. With teary eyes, she said that I could be many things, but that president wasn’t one of them. She told me that because she did not believe that an ethnic minority could ever rise above the nation’s bigotry to hold high office. For a long time, I believed what she told me that day, but I don’t believe her anymore. If a proud African American can be elevated to the Office of President by the people of this land, then why not a proud son or a daughter of Cyrus the Great someday. This is a day of change. This a day when we can proudly proclaim that a dream long deferred is not always a dream denied.
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