Before we get too comfortable in this new year, we should take a second or two to look back at the importance of 2009.
For all of our mistakes and back-biting and hand-wringing and over-wrought partisanship, the country did a great thing during the year we just left.
We reaffirmed the American dream that all is possible, regardless of race, color or creed.
That fact faded from our memories as we went back to the common political and everyday fight for economic survival after the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama as our president.
Regardless of where we are on the political spectrum or how we view his performance, his ascendency wasn't his triumph alone. It was ours, too.
Anger and fear may have preoccupied too many of us the past few months, but this fact remains:
In a country born of inequality and steeped in injustice — where a man could be dangled by his neck from a tree in the presence of thrilled onlookers for the sin of having been born in the wrong color skin — a woman whose ancestors were slaves in Georgetown County is first lady and resides in the White House.
Stop and think about that journey and why it was even possible.
It was possible because we fought and scratched and kicked and screamed and wouldn't let each other — or our ideals — go until they were so firmly rooted in our soil, in our souls, that change had no other choice but to sprout.
That feat should not be ignored, should not be denied, should not be overshadowed by our hunkering down once again on the right and left and wherever else.
It's hard to fully understand its significance because we can't stop the freight train of life long enough to fully reflect on the country's achievement, something our grandchildren and historians will be able to see as clearly then as we now understand the importance of our role in World War II.
The world didn't become perfect that cold January day early last year. Inequality didn't cease to exist. Discrimination — in a variety of forms — remains in our midst. Political scandal and public apathy still co-mingle.
Even given all of those imperfections, it was this past year that reminded the rest of the world that the United States remains the global beacon.
It would be folly to allow the differences among us and the freshness of a new year to allow us to forget.