As a member of the Millennial Generation, I have grown up in a time of terror, violence, and war. I was born during the Gulf War, witnessed the first attack on the World Trade Center, felt the shock of the Murrah Bombing in Oklahoma City, heard the shots at Columbine High School, saw commercial airliners rip into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, observed troops march back into Afghanistan and Iraq, and wept with those fired upon in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. My generation has every right to be pessimistic about the future of our world. We have seen the absolute worst of humanity. But in 2008, a single event, a single ballot, a single election, altered our lives and changed my view of the globe.

            Barack Obama took the stage on Election Night in a crowded park in Chicago, Illinois. The senator I had followed and supported throughout the election season stood behind a podium and spoke of the hope of a nation, the perseverance of a people, and the change a country so desperately needed. He inspired the masses and brought hardened adults to tears. This man of mixed African-American ethnicity, raised by a single mother and grandmother, who attended public schools, had risen to the highest peak of leadership in the entire world. The American Dream was there embodied and our country rejoiced.

            I watched our president throughout his first term quarrel with a Congress of naysayers and do-nothings. He battled with members of his own political party and even some in his inner circle, but determination reigned supreme. President Obama’s resolve served to fulfill his promises. He extended health insurance to forty million citizens through the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He kept countless jobs in America by saving the auto industry. He removed troops from hostile warzones, while still eliminating key targets essential to terrorist operations. He increased funding for public education, along with grants and scholarships so that more could attend college. He fought for the rights of women, signing legislation that required equal pay for equal work and put women’s health issues at the forefront. He pushed America to be more tolerant by ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in our nation’s military.

            Through his actions, my generation has a renewed sense of vigor and optimism. We are inspired because we know that someday we will be called on to lead this great nation. We will not allow the grave actions of individuals set on destroying our peace-of-mind and eliminating our certain inalienable rights to force us into a state of fear and suppression. We will stand with a leader like Barack Obama and become the best students, best citizens, and best people we can possibly be, not only because we are responsible for ourselves, but also because we are responsible for this country. If it is not our generation, if it is not each one of us, if it is not me, then who will take the president’s place as a leader and as an inspiration to all those searching for purpose in our country?

             Tonight as I watched the polling numbers roll into the major news networks, I saw many across the nation, and even many of my friends, seeming dejected once again. Some citizens wanted a new leader, a change in command, but I knew the man from 2008 was lurking in the shadows. When President Obama was finally declared the winner and he took the stage with his trademark grin and confident stride, I knew a fire would soon ignite. He stood behind the podium once again in Chicago, this time speaking to a smaller crowd in an auditorium, but the nation and the world still watched. He delivered a speech on the successful future he envisioned, a future filled with prosperity and purpose. He spoke of unity within these United States and I was once again fueled.

President Barack Obama said tonight in his acceptance speech, “America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us.” This one statement explains every action he has taken, and every word he has spoken, and it will now guide my generation and me into a better tomorrow full of optimism and hope.

Blaine Boyd is the Chair of the Custer County Democrats and a student at SWOSU.