Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This Great Victory Belongs to You

To my daughter's 7th grade English class... Yes we can! Yes we can!
by Charlie Leck

It is difficult to pick up the pen this morning. After listening to President-Elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last night, and listening to it again this morning, the challenge of writing well seems so daunting. However, I desperately want to write to my daughter’s 7th grade English class.

For as our new President said about the election victory last night: “It belongs to you! It belongs to you!”

And you must understand, he is talking to you – to you kids in the 7th grade of that school in Harlem – that school named after another great African American man, Justice Thurgood Marshall.

“Above all,” Barack Obama said last night, “I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

He is talking to you!
“This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.”
I have often wondered what it must have been like to be in the audience at Gettysburg nearly 150 years ago, when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous and virtually immortal speech. This morning, I think I understand because I was able to hear this extraordinary address last night. It was a speech, I think, that will be of historic proportion. I heard it with my ears and it seared my heart.

Did you hear it? If you didn’t, you have an obligation to; for you must, hear about 106 year old, Ann Nixon Cooper, and her story should become a part of your memory. In getting to know her, you will better understand yourself and what is possible for you in this great nation. You will learn that you have the absolute freedom to choose the direction of your life. You will learn that you too may be great and add to the greatness of this nation; or you may choose to ignore the great opportunity that presents itself to you now and remain perfectly ordinary.

“This is our moment,” the President-Elect said last night, “…to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breath, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with the timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can!”

Children, this is your great moment. People like Ann Nixon Cooper, Rosa Parks and Doctor Martin Luther King have opened these doors for you. You must understand that you can be great. Yes you can! Nothing can hold you back but your selves. You are not destined to live in any old ordinary, common way. Not anymore! Not if you seize the gift that has been presented to you.

This new President, this great man born of an African, black heritage and a white, American legacy is opening a door for you. He is opening it as widely as it will ever be opened again. He got where he is because he had the determination, toughness and guts to get there. He has proven to us all that we may soar freely and as high as we wish.

If anyone ever tells you that you can’t also rise to greatness, Barack Obama's words should become your theme song: “Yes we can!”

Yes we can!

Yes we can!

Soar! Fly to greatness. Let no one tell you that you can’t.

Yes we can! I am so anxious to watch you soar!

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