In the middle of watching the Inauguration, I ponder if I am the only one in my family to have cast a vote for a Democrat. I know there are family members of mine that see me in a different, negative, light now for my decision. I know there were family members plotting, amongst themselves, to send me McCain / Palin paraphernalia to get me to change my mind. If these family members knew me at all, they’d know that I don’t make uninformed decisions. I research and research until I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I am making my decision with an open mind and in complete confidence.

This is an amazing day, especially in the notion that I have been so close to giving up hope for goodness in humanity.

As tears stream down my face, I know that I made the right decision. I know that in the face of email blasters trying to scare people into voting against Barack Hussein Obama, I made a decision out of love NOT hate. I made a decision based on hope NOT fear. I made a decision based on my own convictions and my own beliefs and not on the threats of others’ beliefs.

Today, change will come.

White people were / are the ethnic minority where I grew up, so the diversity that I was born into really became ingrained in the foundation of what makes me who I am today. Growing up, a lot of my family members made it clear that they had stereotypes of certain people and of certain races, which fueled my love and my fight for love and acceptance. As a teenager, I took pride and courage even in wearing a “Love Sees No Color” shirt (I know, I know it’s “Love Sees All Color” now) and to share, amidst disdain, that my boyfriend was black.

Yes, this election, this joy in our new President, does come down, partly, to race. Absolutely. To know that this country once had laws that prevented people of color from drinking from the same water fountain, eating at the same restaurant, being in the same area as white people and now has a man of color as the ultimate head of this country and as the Commander-in-Chief, is a tremendous positive change. To know that after 43 Presidents, the door is now wide open for any race and (dare I say) any gender to attain the highest level of leadership that this country has to offer is not only mind blowing but it is reassuring that doors that have been shut for so long are now open for so many to walk through.

I know President Obama has faults. I don’t consider him a messiah or a rock star. I know he will make mistakes. I know that no one is above sin or failure. I expect him to fall. However, I also know that for over a year and a half now, I have witnessed a man, with the utmost love and humility, trudge through the hate-filled, fear-mongers that make up conservative right-wing America and his response to them was always one of caring strength. Not once did he falter in his character or composure. It’s comforting to know that when President Obama falls, he won’t fall very far.

I refuse to vote out of generational or perceived Christian obedience. I know that my God is neither Democrat nor Republican. While I know there are things that President Obama will do that I will not agree with (just as John McCain would have done), I also know that the change that our country has needed for SO long is finally on its way. I know that after decades have passed by, I am seeing a leader with humility, integrity, strength and compassion. I am seeing a man who knows what it means to be under the foot of others. I am seeing a President of the United States that understands segregation, hate, judgment, stereotypes, poverty, intolerance, hardships, apathy and disgust… because he has lived it. His family members have been on the receiving end of that pain and what better evidence to a promise of change than the evidence that exists within President Obama’s line of heritage. I know he will make a difference because I know he has seen the change that he wants to happen within his own family. I don’t know if that’s ever happened with any other affluent white President in the past.

While I would love to cut and paste his entire speech here, I will, instead, leave you with the parts that brought tears to my eyes and streams down my face:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

… a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

… to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

… your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].“

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

May God’s wisdom, knowledge and blessings be on you, President Barack Hussein Obama, as well as on your entire family.