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Traveling through history

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Last night I traveled through history. I saw something which has never been seen before. And I am so glad I did. An African-American man chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate. I traveled through history and saw the American dream come alive. As a new American, I got a glimpse of the American spirit. I watched America rally – with great emotion – behind a man that nobody (14 months ago) knew could draw such a crowd. Where else in the world is it possible to witness such a spectacle? Where else in the world could this happen during an election? Last night I visited history, but I also visited America.

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Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado, was quite a spectacle. Seats were snapped up, in true rock star fashion, within 24 hours. Phone lines were jammed. Automated answers suggested the hotline wasn't working properly – but the problem was simply that volunteers couldn't keep up with the demand. In the end, 84,000 people got tickets. Those who couldn't get in were put on a waiting list.

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84,000 people traveled from all over the country to hear the 47-year-old Illinois senator speak. 'America, now is not the time for small plans,' Obama said to the heaving stadium, upon accepting his party's nomination. It is, he announced, a time to renew America's promise. It was the anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech, and we were traveling back in time – but also forward. 

And the crowd was with him, wanting to believe in that promise. The crowd inside and out of the stadium. The crowds watching him in Times Square, and those of us watching on our televisions.

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'That promise,' he went on, 'is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

'And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

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'The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

'But what the people heard instead – people of every creed and color, from every walk of life – is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.' 

Last night I met Americans I really liked. This is America as it should be. VL


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