Only rarely does one know that one is experiencing history while it happens. Barack Obama's victory is one of those occasions.
There have been two or three other occasions when I have had that feeling. A couple of them were tragic, and their dates are forever seared into my memory: November 22, 1963, and September 11, 2001. But the third - one whose exact date I can't even name - is the one those words recalled, and which in retrospect is the one that most closely resembled last night. It was the night Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.
Then, as now, I was aware that I was witnessing the unfolding of events that changed the world. Then, as now, the realm of the possible was profoundly and forever expanded by the completion of a difficult journey undertaken amid doubt that it could be completed. Then, a man had called on a nation to undertake such a journey; now, it seems, a nation has called forth a man.
I originally supported Barack Obama because of what he was not. He was not a neocon, he was not a religious fundamentalist, he was not a fearmonger. But over the course of a summer and an early autumn, I came to see in him the promise of a true statesman, a leader who has the potential to unite us again as Americans, to unite us again with our allies around the world, to awaken us again to what is possible, and hopefully, to inspire us again to rise to the challenges of our time and accomplish greater things that we have dared to aspire to. And last night, as on that night in 1969, I had the same thought: if we can do this, we can do whatever we need to do.
Yes, we can.