11/05/08 — Americans, first: Election is finished. Now we unite.

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Americans, first: Election is finished. Now we unite.

It has been a very long campaign to choose the next president of the United States.

And now, it is over.

Americans have spoken -- and they have decided to give Sen. Barack Obama the chance to lead them for the next four years.

And whether you were for or against Obama, the time has come to set aside partisan differences and to follow the mantra Sen. John McCain's campaign has preached over the last few months -- "Country First."

This campaign has not been without controversy -- and there are some who are still questioning whether the voting was handled fairly.

Those concerns will be addressed at some point, as will the myriad of problems that seem to plague every election. In the end, we might even find out that there were some irregularities.

But that is a discussion for another day.

Today, we need to look closely at what we all achieved this Tuesday night.

An African American man is the president-elect -- and a woman was a contender to be the vice president.

It was not that long ago, that many people would not have figured that would even have been possible.

And this year, we, Americans, changed history -- again.

That is what happens in a country where you are only limited by the dreams you dream and the hard work you are willing to invest in making them come true.

Those who fought on either side should be proud of their efforts. More people than ever took an interest in the electoral process and made sure their votes counted.

There were impassioned arguments on both sides, and criticisms that could have been levied at either party, but in the end, both candidates acted like the gentlemen they are and called for Americans to come back together to start a new journey.

And that is what makes this nation so special.

Most of us get that this country we call the United States is about more than just political parties and electoral votes. It is about men and women of all races and creeds coming together to build something special -- and to guard freedoms fought for and won so long ago.

If your side did not win, take heart. There is a job for you -- just like there is for every American.

Stay involved. Stay informed. And keep watch.

It is still your job to protect your country and its future. The best way to do that is not to wait for the next presidential election.

And the same is true for the winning side as well.

Demand that those you supported live up to the principles they espoused and the promises they made. Keeping them true to their word is part of your responsibility.

But in the end, be proud. You have just witnessed history -- and the reason this nation is really the best in the world.

Published in Editorials on November 5, 2008 11:17 AM