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Letter from America

To my Dear Friends Overseas,

 

There are times when I am especially moved and grateful to be an American, and this election day was certainly one of those times.  Many of you have shared your congratulations and good wishes.  Thank you for that.  As one of you observed several months ago, part of the wonder of America is its ability to adapt, to change, and to correct mistakes.  After a dark period hardly exemplifying our best qualities, I hope we have begun to do that now.

 

The feeling of joy and hope here is palpable, on the streets, in the way people looked at each other yesterday knowing we have accomplished a great thing, and although that may be a function of the views and politics here in the … section of the country, it is perhaps most surprising to see that even among the ranks of conservatives and supporters of John McCain, many of them had tears in their eyes as they spoke on television about the historic event that has happened here, and about the remarkable leadership qualities of this individual.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke emotionally of her pride.  Even President Bush seemed moved as he spoke of the Obama family stepping through the doors into the White House on January 20.  I will be [decade] years old in a few days, and I can tell you that, even during the dark days of Watergate and Vietnam, both of which I remember very well, when the fabric of our democracy seemed close to tearing by political division, I have never seen an election that moved so many to vote, and so many on both sides to tears.  Although only time will tell, I hope we have chosen a good leader, and that he and our nation will live up to our best qualities and ideals.  Thank you again for your thoughts and kind words.

 

Some of what we have seen and heard:

 

From the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05global.html):

 

GAZA — From far away, this is how it looks: There is a country out there where tens of millions of white Christians, voting freely, select as their leader a black man of modest origin, the son of a Muslim. There is a place on Earth — call it America — where such a thing happens.

 

Even where the United States is held in special contempt, like here in this benighted Palestinian coastal strip, the “glorious epic of Barack Obama,” as the leftist French editor Jean Daniel calls it, makes America — the idea as much as the actual place — stand again, perhaps only fleetingly, for limitless possibility.

 

“It allows us all to dream a little,” said Oswaldo Calvo, 58, a Venezuelan political activist in Caracas, in a comment echoed to correspondents of The New York Times on four continents in the days leading up to the election.

 

Tristram Hunt, a British historian, put it this way: Mr. Obama “brings the narrative that everyone wants to return to — that America is the land of extraordinary opportunity and possibility, where miracles happen.”

 

But wonder is almost overwhelmed by relief. Mr. Obama’s election offers most non-Americans a sense that the imperial power capable of doing such good and such harm — a country that, they complain, preached justice but tortured its captives, launched a disastrous war in Iraq, turned its back on the environment and greedily dragged the world into economic chaos — saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course.

….

 

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell “wept at Obama victory”: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2008/11/05/colin.powell.reaction.cnn

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