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Proud Americans all

As Lincoln County went, the nation did not go.
But the people of Lincoln County, of North Carolina and of every state in the Union turned out in unprecedented numbers to have their voices heard.
Despite intense political passions on all sides, we have held a peaceful election. And we will once again see a peaceful change in power from one political party to the other.
Democracy works in this nation. Because of this we can be united in pride as Americans, regardless of how we may individually feel about the results of this election.
Our rhetoric and emotions were fierce during this political season, which is as it should be. Apathy is often the greatest threat to freedom. But it is a new day and it is time for our political divisions to be put aside for a while. Today, there are no Democrats or Republicans. We are all Americans. And Barack Obama will be the president of one nation indivisible.
Some of us are pleased with the nation’s choice. Others of us are very concerned. We are, however, united in wishing the best for our country, and in praying that our new president, for the sake of nation, will be granted great wisdom as he attempts to govern what is now a hurting nation, wounded by wars, economic instability and divisive politics.
We need real leadership. Regardless of how each of us felt about Obama during the campaign, he is now our president and we must join in hoping, for the sake of our country and our world, that he is up to the test that lies before him.
Historians have often remarked on the role of racial divisions in our nation’s history. If only the Virginia colonists had not first opened Pandora’s box by acquiring slaves, our entire history might have been much happier. Instead, alongside the history of a nation that strove for freedom, we have endured the history of a nation that enslaved, oppressed and disenfranchised those of African descent.
Many of America’s greatest struggles have revolved around this issue. Our Constitution was nearly wrecked over slavery. The young republic repeatedly threatened to unravel over the political and economic divisions that this peculiar institution created. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in our bloodiest war, fought over these divisions.
Even as black Americans gained their emancipation, they discovered that the American dream would be denied to them for many generations. However, little by little, our society changed. Barriers have given way or been broken down. But the struggle has been long, hard, bitter and incomplete.
Today, we awaken to find that an American of African descent has been elected to the highest office in the land. We are not fooled into thinking that prejudice is dead. We are not conned into imagining that the way ahead will be easy.
But regardless of what each of us may think of Barack Obama, we can be united in recognizing our country has taken a great step forward and this is cause for all of us to celebrate, as one people, united as members of the human family. If a black man can be elected to the highest office in the land, how long can any remnants of the old racist system remain?
It is true that millions of Americans went out and voted against Obama. But their votes overwhelmingly were votes for a candidate who offered a different set of proposals and stood on a different set of principles. While there were surely a segment of the populace who voted, for or against Obama, based solely on race, the vast majority of Americans judged the candidates based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
We won’t always agree on everything. There will be vigorous debate, as there should be. But we face a profound struggle against economic hard times and enemies abroad. Under the leadership of our new president, we must lock arms and present a united front as a brave people moving confidently forward together.
We are a great, proud and free country, just as we have always been. In the midst of great change, some things remain unchanged.

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