Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Nov. 6, 2008) - The political apathy that has historically marked elections in the United States was replaced Tuesday with a surge of patriotism and a hope for change.

Millions of Americans came forward to be counted. According to preliminary figures, voter turnout was estimated around 64 percent -- the highest in the nation’s history. It surpassed the previous record set in the 2004 presidential election, when 55 percent of voters went to the polls.

People stepped up with the hope that they could effect change. Groups that had been disenfranchised for so long believed they could make a difference.

Of the more than 148 million Americans who cast their ballot, one in 10 did so for the first time. Most of the newcomers were under age 30, while about a fifth were black and a fifth were Hispanic, based on preliminary election figures.

Their mission statement was clear. They were tired of being affected by the decisions of their leaders. Now, people believed they could truly steer policies rather than just be on the receiving end of them.

Whether you agree or disagree about which presidential candidate was elected, if this momentum continues, this country has the potential to be so much more.

Americans made history when they elected Barack Obama as the 44th president. They chose an African-American who was raised by his grandparents, who wasn’t afforded much wealth and power growing up, to lead the country that has had a long painful history of racism and social division.

That was a defining moment that the country can savor. But there’s also so much work to do now. The people must hold Obama accountable.

The country is still in the middle of two costly wars, a fragile economy, a host of environmental and energy issues, and many more challenges. But America also has many opportunities to continue making history. And to do so, the people must draw from and carry forward that same fervor and belief that they can change things for the better.

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