Tuesday night was certainly quite an event for our country! I must say that being on a college campus was an amazing way to spend the election. Our generation is, perhaps for the first time ever, incredibly concerned and invested in the future of our country and the impact that we each have on that future. As a first-time voter on a campus of mainly other first-time voters, we wanted to do our part. And we did! Obama beat McCain more than 2 to 1 among voters under age 30.
I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything quite like last night. The majority of the Tufts campus was huddled in the Campus Center watching the TV screens as the votes came in; there was quite a tangible excitement in the air. When they declared Obama the winner around 11 p.m. EST, the campus literally went wild in an incredible way. Everyone was jumping up and down and cheering and running outside and hugging all of their friends, and even people they didn’t know at all, and crying. It was as though hope had finally broken through. Nearly everyone in the room was crying with happiness when Obama gave his speech. After the TVs were turned off, the mass of people moved outside, cheering and chanting, “YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!” Everyone horded into the streets and ran screaming up the hill (we live on a hill) to the upper part of campus. The police blocked off the streets so we could all celebrate together–which shocked me, because I was expecting them to come disband the rallying. But no, they were happy too, and even took part in the chaos.
What really struck me, in all of this, was what incredible national pride was being expressed. I have never particularly taken a huge pride in America–not because I’m not happy to live here or because I am not incredibly thankful for the privileges that I have in this country–but because I have never understood the concept of national unity. On Election Night, I did. As we jumped up and down in the street screaming the national anthem, my friend turned to me and said, “I feel like red, white, and blue fireworks just went off in my heart!” And she had it completely right. For the first time ever, I understood what pride in your country means. I understood what hope means. I understood what elation means. I understood what perseverance means. And what a thing it says about our nation that we were able to band together, elect the first African American president, and truly make change happen. With the election of Obama comes an incredibly hopeful change, with the ideals of peace and healing at the forefront. He represents the healing of our nation, of our relationship with the world, of ourselves, and of the Earth, and I have never been more proud to say that I am an American.
Note to self: Yes, we can.
P.S. You can see us here, on video.
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.