In what has been called one of the most important elections in the history of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.
An estimated 135 million Americans voted in this year's Presidential election. About fifty two percent of them cast their ballot for Mr. Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, and in doing so, elected the first African-American to the office of the President of the United States.
To many Americans of every creed and color, this was a major milestone in a centuries-long journey toward racial equality; of decades of social and political activism to eliminate discriminatory laws, to change the perceptions of society, and along the way to open the door of opportunity to every American, regardless of race, gender and social status. This point was well illustrated by an anecdote told by Republican presidential candidate John McCain in his concession speech:
"A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit -- to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election for an African American to the Presidency of the United States."
During his victory speech, President-Elect Obama echoed the sentiment in more pragmatic terms:
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
"No matter how they cast their ballots, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made," said outgoing President George W. Bush in a speech congratulating President-Elect Obama on his victory. "They showed a watching world the vitality of America's democracy, and the strides we have made toward a more perfect union. They chose a President whose journey represents a triumph of the American story -- a testament to hard work, optimism, and faith in the enduring promise of our nation."
Now the election is over, the victor chosen, and it is up to both sides to come together and work as one to solve the problems facing the United States. As President-Elect Obama stated in his victory speech, "[President] Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."