Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can!

Today is a beautiful day in Chicago. Not just because  the weather has been sunny and about 22 C for the past week but also because history was made right here last night. 

I was lucky enough to be right there yesterday in Grant Park (thank you J. and M. who got us in as their dates on their tickets!) when the first African-American president was elected. I was right there when he gave his speech - with about 250 000 other people who all wanted Barack Obama to be the 44th president of the United States of America. To change America. To change the world.

Today is a new day. A new beginning. Today Americans can take off the Canadian flags from their backpacks and announce to the world "Yes, I am American and I am proud!".

Only a few people who know me today know this but I was once a big fan of America. As a kid and as a teenager my dream was to move to New York, maybe study Journalism or History or both. I had an American flag up in my room. My best friend was Muslim (still is) and my enthusiasm for America even converted parts of her even if Arabs do have a strong dislike of America (not without reason I have to say) and her family was not different.

I followed the American elections closely from the first time Clinton was elected, closer than I followed Austrian politics.
However in my late teens I became interested in British music, British culture and back then I really wanted to move to London. Bush was elected just before I graduated and it sealed the deal for me - I was not going to move to the US, this was not a culture I could identify with. I was going to stay in Europe. My mom was happy with my decision, especially when 9/11 happened exactly one week after I had left Austria to pursue my dreams elsewhere.
You know the story from then on - I met E., I fell in love with him, with his family, with his friends, with his country. And yesterday for the first time, I proudly wore a pin of the American Flag on my jacket, along with an Obama pin. 
My American friends who have never lived in Europe - you can only imagine how much this will change things - the view that the world has of America. I am looking forward to a world where E. and I can meet new people in Europe without being questioned about Bush and why Americans think they are better than rest of the world. I believe Obama will be able to change this misperception that the world has, thinking that all Americans are uneducated hillbillies. 
I know he will. 

The event itself was very moving. Obamas speech was wonderful. Watch it here:
See if you can find me in the masses.
Find the transcript here:

I have to say that I also really liked the first half of McCains speech. I don't know if you followed the event but it is a tradition for the one who lost the election to first call the one who won and then hold a speech congratulating the new elected president. McCains speech was very well written and reasonable. The first half was excellent. The second half was pretty boring for Obama voters but I guess had to be done for the disappointed crowd standing before him in Phoenix, Arizona.

The only thing I did not like about the event was the fact that they had a bishop hold a prayer for Obama before he came on. I guess America is very religious and people expect that but then there are many different religions and many people who do not believe in god so I think making a religious statement was unnecessary. 

Here is my favorite part of Obama's speech which was also the beginning of the speech:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Thank you America for going out there and standing in line for hours and hours. Thank you for making a difference and for giving our kids a future!


Maria said...

Dear Aline, I think you should give up photography and become a writer or do both. Or maybe pick up journalism again as once was your dream as you write. I find it very interesting to read your blog. : ) Well, back to work and then tonight sample sale with my parents I left home alone. Big hugs

The Austrian said...

Oooh, sample sale at Tommy's!

I just bought some Tommy Hilfiger Loafers on sale for 34 dollars! Thanks to TJ Maxx.