We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. –excerpt from a speech delivered by Barack Obama and poetic lyrics of Yes We Can by Will.i.am
In early 2008, a friend forwarded the newly released video, Yes We Can, posted on YouTube. I hadn’t heard of Will.i.am or the Black Eyed Peas. I had become what I vowed I never would—the older generation.
Regardless, the melodic refrain chant “Yes we can” carried me back to my own youth. It was a time not so different than today. A time of cynicism wrapped up with worries about the present and our future. One filled with war, an unstable economy, consternation around filling our cars with gas, and voices calling for change.
Like tens of millions of others, I greedily drank the video’s message. Captivated, I played it over and over. It’s a message that stirs imagination and offers hope for a better day and a better future.
I awoke early on Election Day to a gray, drizzly sky. The polls had not yet opened at my neighborhood polling place. Parting my sheer curtains, I was gripped with excitement to witness neighbors already lining up to take part in this most historic election.
Even later as a light mist fell, I stood on my balcony sipping a latte, watching the crowds swell, along with my pride.
I ventured out across the street to be one of over 126 million Americans to cast a vote. As I watch the returns, two announcements brought such joy to my being. The first was the overwhelming mandate for change, the election of Barack Obama. The second was seeing that as we Americans celebrated, so did the world.
Can you sense the shift? Can you feel the hope? Do you no longer have doubts that anything is possible?
I wonder…Do you feel the power of the message: Yes We Can?
“We hope Americans realized that repairing the damage of the last eight years will take some time, but the regaining of respect throughout the world is immediate,” say Gene and Marilyn Marx (Park Place) as they exit the polls.
One-month old Donovan was part of history when his parents brought him to the polls and cast their vote for Barack Obama. “I feel that my vote will better the world in which my son will grow up,” says Gregory Olson (Park Row).
Edward Galvan (Marina Park) voted because “we are in fragile times with an uncertain future and given the myriad of national and international issues that we are confronted with, I felt that it was my duty to vote for the man I felt would be best qualified to lead and navigate our country through these difficult times.”
We aren’t a million voices strong; there’s roughly 35,000 citizens Downtown. Yet, we are a community— a collection of individuals—who believe yes we can. -December 2008