Opinion

Commentary: Watching the world celebrate

Green with envy I was, upon receiving the text message a friend sent me from an exclusive reserved section during Barack Obama's post-election gathering at Chicago’s Grant Park.

But an e-mail from a different friend the next morning, which began "Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia," trumped it. And after hearing that friend recount how he celebrated the election of our nation’s first bi-racial president, I’m convinced the best place to do it was overseas.

My friend, an air cargo executive from Kansas City visiting Malaysia for a convention, was feeling the excitement of the world.

The convention drew business people from many countries, and many were obsessively keeping tabs on the U.S. election throughout the day. Those with Blackberrys kept others updated as results came in, offering thumbs up and mouthing things like, "He just took Florida," during work sessions.

Then came the culminating moment when he was ushered toward a TV where others had gathered to watch Obama’s speech. Here is how he described the scene in the e-mail:

"A wildly diverse crowd of about 60 people were raptly watching and listening to a newly minted American president. You could have heard a pin drop. Smiles prevailed all around, and when Obama finished, the African businessman standing in front of me turned around, his cheeks traced with tears. He’d heard my colleague and me speaking and gathered my nationality. He looked me in the eye and said, 'I love you, I love America. Congratulations.' Now (recognized as) an American, I received congratulatory messages, handshakes and a few hugs — including most unexpectedly one from a Muslim woman in hair-covering.

"A German man told me, 'It’s like we have all won.'" 

That pretty much says it. The world is now looking to the United States with hope.

To read the complete column, visit The Kansas City Star.

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