Eras end with a whisper, with reflection and the quiet drift preceding sleep. They start with a roar, the declaration that a particular dawn is different from all its predecessors — a case made, day by day, over years of sunrises.And a bit about the man who grabbed the moment:
Across the country, a wave was gathering force. But it was diffuse, difficult to measure and seemed to be coming from many directions, many sources at once.
Obama sat quietly for a moment, and everyone waited. “This I know: When I raise my hand and take that oath of office, I think the world will look at us differently,” he said. “And millions of kids across this country will look at themselves differently.”
Obama understood, through his own search for identity, how America’s seminal struggle over race was part of a wider story, of a search for dignity and hope that defined the lives of countless people throughout the world. A battered America, he felt, was ready, even anxious, to prove the truth of its sacred oaths — liberty, justice and equality. To show the world. If, through his own ambitions, he could offer his country a chance to step forward, it might rise to the occasion.
And it did, with astonishing speed. You could see it so clearly that night, the last night of a historic 21-month campaign, that last rally, in Manassas, Va. By 10 p.m., there were 90,000 people gathered in the Prince William County Fairgrounds. They’d been gathering since midafternoon. And it was America. Make no mistake. This was border territory, where the edge of Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs meets the true Old Dominion. Starbucks gives way to gun shops, whole grains to grits and whatever liquid can get you drunk fast.