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Inevitably the question will be asked. It may not be tomorrow, the following day or five years from now but it will be asked. It will be asked of Democrats, Republicans and the highly coveted Independents. It will roll smoothly from the tongues of generations that are currently too young to appreciate the significance of the moment. "Where were you when Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States?"
The answer to this question will, in a majority of cases, be two-fold. An accurate representation of this moment and what it means to America will require the responder to begin with his/her whereabouts at precisely 11 p.m. (EST) on Nov. 4, 2008.
In an election cycle, often coined "silly season", the voice of the American public was seemingly channeled into the soul of the most unlikely of candidates and thundered from a park in Chicago into television sets and radio stations across the world. It was a voice that sent chills down the spine of both supporters and detractors. A voice that called for the destruction of barriers, both real and imagined, one that refused to be stifled by negativity, past associations, unfair accusations and defeatism. It was a voice screaming of determination to rebuild the gaps that have been created in our nation and prevent newer ones from forming.
I am the same person as I was on the months and days leading up to Nov. 4, 2008, but I am not. I am changed because the attitude and shift of the country has changed.
I am different not because Barack Obama became the first black man to become president. I am different because he is different. Earnestly, he has asked ALL AMERICANS to look beyond themselves and their immediate wants and focus on the needs of others. He has asked us to understand that even the best conceived plans are impossible without help and support.
More importantly, he has asked us to believe, to believe in an America and a world where petty differences do not create chasms which are impossible to cross instead those differences provide avenues to understand different points of view, to believe in an America in which the success of your neighbor(s) is just as important to you as your personal accomplishments.
Where was I on Nov. 4, 2008? Physically, I was sitting quietly on my couch nervously watching the election returns. Emotionally, I was squeezing myself into a cramped space in that cold Chicago park to live a moment of history.
Where was I on Jan. 20, 2009? Physically, I was in my high school English III classroom going on about the senseless persecution of witches in 1692 in Salem, Mass., seamlessly connecting that to the ridiculous accusations made by Joseph McCarthy in 1954. Emotionally, I was crowded into the areas around the Capitol Building with thousands of others still shocked at what we were witnessing.
Yesterday we were all a part of history.
A moment in history that will be recorded over time as being significant for reasons many have already stated and some that have yet to occur. This will not be a fleeting instance or one that fizzles with time. This was more than a single action. This was our moment as American citizens, our moment to come together and, as citizens, we should embrace and nurture it.
Editor's note: Myron Fogle is a teacher at Shelby County High School. He is the son of Lebanon City Councilwoman Denise Fogle.