Yesterday I was witness to history. I spent the night watching poll results. I listened to news filtered through a Canadian lens on CBC. I heard the rousing cheers given after Barack Obama was declared the next President of the United States.
Things changed yesterday. The first African-American in the history of America will advance to become the Commander in Chief of a world superpower. And when Obama walked out onto that stage in Chicago, the crowd was ecstatic. His speech reached back into history, pulling Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy to his side. His tone was subdued, telling Americans of the trials that lie ahead, of the problems that need to be solved. He may not have been triumphalist with his win but still there was an undercurrent of that constant word in his campaign, hope.
I don't know what his election to office means for Canada. So often are we affected by the decisions made in the country to the south that I can only hope great things will come of this.
I found a post written by Bob Greene "What the silence said" that I think perfectly and beautifully evokes what happened last night. Here is an excerpt:
"It may have been his own version– intentional or involuntary– of that sudden silence that fell over the crowd. He can’t be silent, in any sense of that word– he is going to be the president. But during that same span late last night when the audience, in its brief hush, seemed to be acknowledging that everything– everything– had just changed, so, too, Obama appeared to be sending the signal, to the rest of us and maybe to himself, that he was well aware of the change, and was already beginning to deal with it."