by Jolijt T '11

Proud To Be An American

Since my move to New York, about 12 years ago, I have always considered myself Dutch or European but never American. It’s easier to be a citizen of cheese, wooden shoes and windmills than to belong to the country that re-elected its worst president ever. I thought most Americans were ignorant, blind to the effects of war, uneducated and insensitive to the rest of the world. But on November 4th, 2008 America proved me wrong and I apologize for my arrogant assumptions.
On the 4th, Americans elected Barack Obama. My grandparents described to me  times of segregation and a country riddled with racism. Fifty years later, they sat and watched that same country elect a black man President.
But Obama does not only represent the first black president. He is inspiration; an inspiration that a country stuck in a deep rut desperately needed. He brought millions of new voters to the booths. He shook up the foundations of American politics. He broke the boundaries of race, experience and party. His t-shirts are the latest style. America has fallen in love and the rest of the world will follow.
They will see American represented by someone who is tall, lean, serene, handsome, diplomatic, moving and loving. America will stroll into the United Nations and shake hands with China, Russia, Nigeria, France and then Iran. We will be cast in a new light, given an opportunity for yet another impression and givrn a chance for forgiveness for the past 8 years.
Hopefully we grasp this chance and take advantage of the good spirit and enthused minds of the people on Earth. This will be difficult; we are up against a lot, Obama’s up against a lot. America will need to deal with a bad economy, two wars (maybe three), a rising unemployment rate, a deficit of over $10 trillion and the problems we had before W. Bush (yes America had faults then too).
But I’m optimistic and excited to grow into an adult in the post-Obama world. I’m excited to raise my future children in a fairer country and tell them about the day I pulled the lever on my father’s vote for the America’s first black president. I’ll be able to describe the tears, the enthusiasm, the headlines and the spirit of the last few months.
It’s hard to disagree that we’re in bad shape. It’s going to take a country of open people to turn this all around. The 180 degree turn will start with all of us acknowledging the extraordinary circumstances of this election regardless of our beliefs, religion or party. This simple tribute will bring us all closer together.
Of course, we do not need to fall for every word he speaks. We should not trust him completely, no matter how moved we are. Questioning our President is how we’ll avoid falling into the rut again. However we should also all work towards accepting him and each other.
Since the founding of our country we have been separated, rich and poor, North and South, Confederates and Union, black and white, Democrats and Republicans. But we have leapt many of these hurdles, bridged many gaps and grown stronger. I believe we can continue in this tradition and truly be United States and united people.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s