E. Pluribus Unum
It's been a long time coming, but at last our nation is whole and we the people, for whom this great nation of promise and plenty is of, by and for, are one people, created equal.
For the last several years, far too many of us, myself included, have been told we're not as American as "them", not American enough, not real Americans.
Our love of country was derided as we were told we are not patriotic enough or not patriotic at all. We've been told that we are anti-American, pro-terrorist and traitors.
The faithful among us who shared a faith with those separating us from the herd were told we are not religious enough, somehow not as favored by God. The faithful among us who hold at the core of our souls a faith that differs from those separating us from the herd were told we are not religious, that our God(s) are evil and that we are a danger to our country, to the world and to all that is good. Those among us who are not among the faithful were told that we are the most dangerous of all - that we are evil incarnate, servants of Satan or Satan, himself.
We have been told that our morals are immoral or amoral, that our values are valueless and costly, that our dreams, realized, would be the foundation of a nightmarish reality for all.
We have been blamed for everything from terrorist attacks to hurricanes to wild fires... and told these things, whether acts of men or acts of nature, were God's judgement of and punishment for our wickedness.
Those of us who fought for rights and freedoms long denied or fought to protect and retain rights and freedoms hard won were told if we did not like the changes they had made, were making or wanted to make -- we should leave this country.
Many among us, far too many, have endured these things through multiple generations that stretch back through the centuries, back farther even than our founding fathers' promise upon birthing this great nation, that we are all created equal, that this is our nation, that it was created and exists of us, by us and for us.
Over the centuries, through the generations, countless Americans, both those deemed less worthy by some of their fellow countrymen and those who were not themselves deemed less worthy but who could not live with the injustice and wrong of lifting up some Americans by holding down others have stood up, raised their voices, worked, fought, served, sacrificed, suffered and even died to make good on the promises made to them and to all of us by our founding fathers... the names and contributions of some have become great in history, the names and contributions of most are not recorded in the history books. The contributions of all are among the strongest threads in the grand tapestry of our past, our present and our future.
In the last few weeks, at early voting locations, on mail-in ballots and in the election day voting booths, Americans, by the millions, put their hands up and said, "No more! We are not 'us' and 'them,' we are one people. This is not my country or their country, it is our country. There is no real America and phony America - there is only the United States and the united people of America."
Today, I'm not fighting back the tears, but letting them flow freely and my dearest wish is one it's not possible to make true: that I could reach back through time to tell every person whose contributions led to this day that it was not in vain, that this sunrise did come and to thank them and to thank every person who voted for the promise this day makes good on and to thank Barack Obama for welcoming us into the fold for the first time or back into the fold after being cast out for a time.
I am an American, a real American, no better or worse or more or less than any other American, but equal -- and damn, it feels good.