This was a special day for me as an American, but perhaps even more so as an American living abroad. American ex-pats are often rather shy about confessing their nationality. My husband and I went to a party two years ago, and when one of the couples at our table found out I was an American, they excused themselves(they didn't care what my politics were--they did not want to sit next to an American). Of course, I was a little offended, but I wasn't that surprised. Like it or not, the last 8 years have been pretty tough on America's image, and noone feels this more keenly than those of us who live abroad. A lot of people just don't like us, and many of them have their reasons.
The funny thing is, as soon as Obama declared his intention to run for president, world opinion started to shift. And by the time I went to France this summer, the whole world was talking about the possibility that Americans might elect the first president in the western world that was a member of a visible minority. There was also a tacit understanding that electing the first black president of the United States was a vital step in healing our country's image and removing the stain of inequality that had marred our reputation around the world.
Actions speak louder than words, and President Obama will be faced with tremendous challenges. But as he often reminds us, Obama's mere presence in this office demonstrates that the Americans are truly committed to the belief that all men are created equal. And although I live in Canada, this ex-pat is feeling quite patriotic today.
Image courtesy CNN