For the first time in history, the Presidential Inauguration ceremony will be open to the public, and the entire National Mall will be open for those wishing to witness this moment in history.
And although I will be watching from my home in Marquette, for me, Tuesday will be one of the greatest days on record. When President-Elect Barack Obama takes the Oath of Office officially making him President of the United States, it will represent the end of a sordid political affair that has plagued our country for far too long. With President George Bush on his way out, finally, there is something besides despair for us to look forward to.
But in this time of celebration, it is prudent to remember that there is a group who is, in large part, responsible for this victory: young people. For those of us who fall into that category, this inauguration may be the defining moment in our lives, just as it is for President-Elect Obama himself.
Never before has the youth vote, which is so often sought by presidential candidates, come to such an epic culmination.
Before the race even began, dissent was slowly brewing within the ranks of the 18 to 30 crowd everywhere. Sick from the jumbled mess created by the Bush administration, they searched for a remedy to seemingly endless malady.
Thus emerged a senator from Illinois, running on a forward-looking, progressive platform of hope and change. Armed with these policies, he not only caught the attention of young people across the country, but engaged them as well, even those who had been previously apathetic.
It was not long before young people flocked to their computers, cell phones and Blackberries to spread the word. Facebook, almost now ubiquitous with the college-aged set, was flooded with groups and pages expressing support for Obama. Tech-savvy young people were using all the resources at hand and on the Internet to spread the grassroots movement for Obama.
This was furthermore encouraged by the easily accessible campaign Web site, which became a hub of information and organization, and allowed just about anyone to feel like they were really part of the campaign.
In November 2008, all of that hard work paid off when Obama was elected, giving young people a reason to remain politically motivated and not return to their formerly apathetic state. However, they did this with the knowledge that the transition to a better country will not happen overnight and there is still plenty to endeavor.
But what will happen when Obama takes office only days from now? Plans are already in motion to begin bandaging up our injured country and its subsequently poor foreign relations.
Obama has promised a quick withdrawal of troops, many of them young people, from foreign conflict in Iraq, estimating complete withdrawal by 2012. Although three years seems like a long time, compared to time already spent in foreign conflict, eight in Afghanistan and almost six in Iraq, it isn’t.
As the economy continues to struggle, and the employment forecast for young people gets dimmer and dimmer, many of them are worried about finding jobs after college.
Pending approval by Congress, immediately after he is sworn in, Obama plans to responsibly distribute the remainder of the $700 billion stimulus package. This includes designating funds for tax cuts and creating jobs, not bailing out morally questionable big businesses and financial firms.
Coupled with the determination of young people, Obama has been able to come this far, and will, with continued support, only make this country better, starting Tuesday.
And while much of the country seems to be focused on the record numbers that are supposed to turn out on Inauguration Day, or what kind of gown Michelle Obama will be wearing, it is important that we commend young people, who, despite being chronically absent from previous elections, campaigned tirelessly, paid attention, cared and most importantly, showed up to vote.