Last night was amazing, wasn't it? Who could tear themselves away from the television or computer, watching that sea of faces (more than 125,000!) in Grant Park, thousands more in Times Square, all eagerly anticipating the beginning of a new day in America. It was a moment none of us in America will ever forget, another one of those "where were you when..." moments with which those of us who have lived more than half a century are so familiar. I've certainly never seen anything like it in my lifetime, and it gives my weary heart hope.
Joining in with all the multitudes watching this poised and confident young man step forward into the history books, I realized how hungry Americans had been for a leader we could admire and trust. A leader who cared about us, and who, like a wise and loving parent, expected much of us. I saw how the country, like a rowdy teenager under the care of neglectful parents, had run amuck, out of control. How we needed someone with a firm hand to rein us in, set us on the right road, and keep us there.
There are a precious few people who have that special "it" factor - the charisma, but also the intelligence, the drive, the ability to inspire people - that can make history. And this man surely has it in spades. But so much rides on Barack Obama's shoulders. Not long ago, he told a reporter that the thing keeping him awake at night was not worries about what to do if he lost the election, but what he would do if he won.
And now he has. And he must hoist a multitude of American people - black, white, yellow and red - on those shoulders with him. His election proves that the American people can speak out, that we have the strength to take back our country from the hands of old line politics, that we can embrace change with our hearts and minds.
But we must be realistic, and not expect that he can change things overnight. It will be a slow, but hopefully steady process, this business of getting the country under control, of gathering us all together under this umbrella of hope. As Obama said last night, we must buy into the notion that there we are not a collection of "red states and blue states, we are the United States of America."
Like a fractured family, who has gone far too long without the oversight of a wise and intelligent parent, it will take time and love to get ourselves back on the right track.
But after the spectacle of last night, I believe it's possible.
I believe we can!