Senator John McCain delivered a most gracious, humble and elegant speech
characteristic of his noble honor in service to America. The pundits
will parse it perhaps. But upon its delivery, it stirred the soul. It
was a moment of grace.

And then…

Sen. Barack Obama addresses a crowd of 125,000 people in Chicago, Illinois.

Here in Chicago, ‘city of neighborhoods’, world-class city with
a small, hometown feel, the masses were gathered to hear the victory
speech of the hometown candidate who is now the next leader of the free
world.

President-elect Barack Obama’s speech in Chicago’s Grant Park, at
the peak of victory on this historic night, was to my ear the most
human, humble and personal appeal the candidate has made to date.

He was aware of the awe of the moment, and the responsibility. I
didn’t take notes….I took it in. Transcripts are easy enough to find
afterward. Here’s one, and here are a few lines that resonated…

The opening reference to the Founders:

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.

Paying deference to our Founders was important. Very good start.

And he said what struck me at the end of this election day, when everyone was so wrung out and wrapped up in its conclusion.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor,
Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native
American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent
a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of
individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

This was transformative I think, more than his stump speeches. He
seemed to appreciate this moment and the history at once, and more than
any other prepared text, this time the first African-American
president-elect reached deep to say “I know what we need, I know some
of you doubt me, I want you to believe and help me.”

This struck me as most resonant:

As 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.” And to those Americans whose
support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear
your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....