The Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as our Nation's 44th President is an event I've waited a lifetime to see.
That I was also a part of the campaign to elect him President -- exhausting myself beyond points I knew I could bare -- makes the occasion all the more joyous. I am overwhelmed.
It's a release. Today, I have Hope for my country like nothing I've felt before. I'm sure many of you do too.
But what about all those who aren't here to celebrate with us? I've lived only 25 years -- and fought too few battles -- to see this sight. Too many people to count lived entire lives -- and fought every day of them -- and won't have the honor of watching Obama raise his hand and take the greatest Oath in our Land.
As we watch this sight, these are some of the people I wish could be here - in this life. It is to these people I dedicate my experience, seeing Obama become President:
- My grandfather, Robert Westheimer (1916 - 1997), who fought for civil rights and the dignity of his fellow citizen.
- My great aunt and uncle, May and Charles Westheimer, who were also fearless civic leaders.
- My mother's friend and a friend to me, Cheryl Wallace, an artist with an acute sense of justice who died in 2006.
- Richard Sugarman and Joe Sherman, fathers to two of my closest friends, who worked hard and believed in the promise of America for their children.
- Paul Wellstone, the first politician I saw embody the politics Obama champions.
- Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio's pride, and first Black Congresswoman.
- Justice Louis Brandeis, namesake of my alma mater, who reminds the "Yes We Did" generation that, "The most important political office is that of the private citizen. "
- Bob Marley, who sang for equal rights.
- Woody Guthrie, who sang for worker's rights.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., who "walked so Obama could run."
- Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a gift." Today is a gift.
- President Lyndon Johnson, who -- as a tough negotiator -- signed the Civil Rights Act.