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January 13, 2009

What Does This 44th Inauguration Mean To You?

I will win this, I thought, when I heard the news that ten people would win a trip to the 44th Inauguration of Barack Obama with a winning essay. The essay topic was "What does this inauguration mean to you?" I didn't win the contest literally, but this morning I realized I won something just as meaningful; the opportunity to remember that this day is possible because of the efforts of millions of people. It is good to remind myself I am one of those people. This coming year of 2009 is pregnant with opportunities to make a difference in my life, community and the world. I am excited and energized to be part of this president's success and my own. I invite you to do the same in your own way. We need all hands, heads and hearts engaged to end the wars, feed the hungry and help those on our shores and abroad to have the basic necessities of clean water, shelter, medicine and education. I read recently that "Success it the progressive realization of a worthy ideal". I challenge you to decide this year what worthy endeavor you will tackle. The world is full of need and our new president will need your help. I don't know what this inauguration means to you, but wherever you are and whatever you are doing January 20th 2009, may it be the catalyst that encourages you towards a better life. My essay follows, and I encourage you to script one of your own so you can be a winner too.

I want to be a witness. The 44th Inauguration of Barack Obama president-elect is the most improbable, world-changing event of my lifetime. Every American has been changed by the affects of this election because they realized that it is all about them. Their voice, hope and vote made the difference. But I, and every African American and person of color have been affected in a way that words can't articulate. If pride could be packaged there wouldn't be enough boxes to hold what we felt the evening of November 4, 2008 when Barack's name was announced as the 44th president-elect of America. Victory for every wrong ever done to us because of the color of our skin since we reached the shores of this country was in some ways reconciled. This Inauguration is the culmination of five decades and four generations of my family and our ancestor's sacrifices for this country I love. My place at the inauguration would be a worthy testament to the marchers, boycotts and freedom fighters that forged the way for this time in history to be possible. I want to be there as a representative of those who dreamt the dream that a man could be judged by his character and not the color of his skin and the bridge for the many who come, and are coming, to be part of the American dream. This inauguration symbolizes that the principles of freedom, equality and the opportunity for a better life is still what Americans and the people who come to our country want and deserve. This 44th inauguration is a demonstration of how Michelle Obama's comment "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country", and Sarah Palin's comment in regards to Barack, "he's not quite like us as he pals around with terrorist" collided in the political hemisphere and instead of dividing our country, united the majority of the electorate. I admit that Michelle's comment made total sense to me growing up a nine year old black girl in sixties Anchorage, Alaska. I watched from a distance the murders of JFK, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy wondering where and how I fit into the American fabric. In a different context I also understood Sarah Palin's comments because they echoed what I heard growing up and her words represented what millions of other Americans felt. This inauguration is the testament that there is enough room for all dialogue as long as it is respectful. This inauguration means that all that is right has eclipsed the weary, worrisome wars and running racial dialogue that underlines all that is wrong with our country. We, as a country, have risen from the ashes of our storied history and common weaknesses into the best we have ever been. I would be honored if you would choose me to witness and represent the strength, faith, tenacity, patriotism, judgment and goodwill of the people of this country who elected Barack Obama the 44th president. This inauguration is the shining star that marks how far we have come as a country, and though we have a way to go, I am confident that with Barack's leadership we will get there. Thank you, and thank Barack.

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