It is closing on 11 PM as I sit and write this and I feel comfortable trusting the predictions being made by the news stations, then quickly snatched up and put into greater circulation by the bloggers (ain’t technology grand?), that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States. This is a no small moment for our country. And regardless of how you voted, you were part of an election that will be recorded in history for a long time to come.

I’ve been on the phone with my mother, and we’ve been following the election coverage together. Well, I’ve been following it and reporting what I see to her. She still lives without a TV. As I grew up in that same house without a television, neither of us are TV watchers, so I followed the votes as they came in on The New York Times’ home page. She grew up in Virginia and therefore we watched with particular interest the tight numbers as they slowly crept up in favor of Barack Obama. We also kept an eye on Ohio, and cheered as it swung over to blue.

Mr. Obama has some extraordinary challenges ahead of him, but I’m very excited to begin the process of rebuilding the infrastructure of the government, foreign policy, domestic policy, environmental policy, pretty much everything that has been ravaged by the past adminstration. As I told my mom, I think Obama’s days as a community organizer (read about them in his first book) will serve him well as he starts to contemplate and execute the extraordinary task of running the country. His ordinary beginnings and multicultural family give him insight both into the live of average Americans as well as those whose lives have been historically marginalized, to say nothing of his insight into world culture.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve been around students for several presidental elections now and this is the first time I’ve witnessed the majority of my students fully engaged in the election process. I teach seniors, so many are just a year away from voting, but historically (in my experience) that hasn’t mattered. Barack Obama is the first candidate I’ve seen galvanize and keep the attention of today’s teens. This is truly something; he’s competing with a lot for it. Their attention to this election is essential. Our youth is what we will all come to depend upon to carry us into the future. If Barack Obama is the man to light the way for them, I salute that. I also salute the citizens of this country in their choice of the first African American to be elected President of the United States. It’s been a long time coming.

PS. It’s now 11:24 PM and it’s official. Barack Obama has captured 273 electoral college votes. The Times’ headline reads, “Obama: Racial Barrier Falls In Heavy Turnout.” Oh, happy, happy day!