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“Rosa sat, so Martin could walk. Martin walked, so Obama could run. Obama [ran], so our children can fly.”

This beautiful saying was posted in the window of the empty grocery store turned Obama headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where my daughter Jorie and I were stationed to help get out the vote on Election Day. Like countless other volunteers, we drove in from the Chicago-area to assist with the turnout effort by knocking on doors, leaving reminder notes, and arranging transportation for voters in need of a ride to the polls.

Arriving the night before, we met up with Jorie’s beloved Aunt Dana who took a break from her tireless work on the Milwaukee Paid Sick Days campaign to have dinner with us. It was wonderful to get to hear first-hand about her organizing efforts which led to the successful passage of this groundbreaking referendum. But, the best part was seeing Jorie beam every time we passed by a house with a paid sick days sign on the lawn or drove by the huge banner Dana strung across a highway bridge. And, I have to admit to being pretty impressed with my 11-year-old’s own budding organizing skills as I overheard her talking quite convincingly to several people we met about the importance of the campaign.

Tuesday morning, we headed off to Obama central to get our first assignment. Our most memorable stop was an apartment complex in an economically distressed neighborhood in Milwaukee’s 157th ward. When we pulled up, we saw two men walking hand-in-hand with their toddlers toward home. We asked if they had already been to the polls and they explained that they couldn’t vote because they were on parole. I could see the disappointment in their faces and my heart was filled with sadness that these young fathers would not have the opportunity to participate in one of the most momentous presidential races in our nation’s history. But, as they and other residents expressed their excitement about the election (many of whom had already cast their ballots and proudly sported “I voted” stickers), I also felt a tremendous sense of hope for what could be accomplished when ordinary citizens believe their actions can make a difference.

As we wrapped up our canvassing efforts, a dedicated volunteer named Danny, who had come all the way from Seattle, thanked us for our help. He told Jorie how important her involvement was and how she had helped make history by being there. We arrived back home around 6:30 p.m. and after dinner and homework, Jorie begged my husband and I to take her to the Obama rally in Chicago's Grant Park. I knew that our Milwaukee experience and Danny’s words had had an impact when she explained to her father (who hates crowds) that we had to go to “be part of history.” So, you can guess where we were when it was announced that our very own Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, would become the 44th President of the United States.

Indeed, November 4th, 2008 will go down in history - for America and for our family. But, in the words of our President-elect, what we do with the opportunity it has given us, is in our hands.

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