My dear friend Adeline commented today on the surge of proud Americans she found amidst her facebook friends. After Obama won last night, I changed my facebook status to 'proud to be American', mostly just to keep from being to 'ra-ra', as I am supposed to be an unbiased journalist this semester.
The first moment I realized I was proud to be American was while standing at the Obama rally last week when he came to campus. There was a volunteer handing out flags to the crowd, and I asked my friend, Hannah, to grab me one. I have never in my life wanted to hold an American flag. Not since I began developing my own opinions. I love the 4th of July as much as the next girl, but mostly just for the fireworks.
While at the rally, I stood next to people I don't usually hang out with. People of my parents generation. I stood behind a black woman and when Obama took the stage, I was in so excited to be seeing someone so important speak that I blurted out to her "I've never seen anything like this before!" She turned around to me and said something like, "That's because there's never been anything like this before."
This race has been impressive. I grew to respect both candidates so much. I, like so many Americans, was just thrilled that change was coming. Any change.
While I was in Spain, I constantly had to defend myself to people. I was thrilled when someone mistook me for German or Canadian because it meant I didn't have to explain my country to them. I always felt like I was on the defensive. When visiting my German boyfriend at the time's parents, I heard an almost audible sigh of relief when I expressed my discontent with President Bush. I was not proud to be American, and abroad, that was seen as a good thing.
After a year of seeing how deeply unimpressed outsiders are with American politics, a disappointment that resonates in my own mind, I came back to the States holding my breath for November.
I don't believe government can or should change everything, but at the very least, it will be nice to have regained the respect of many world citizens.