It’s not often that we actually can feel the sense of being a part of an historic moment. Today is that day.

I’ve voted at the same location for over five years. In those five years, I can not ever remember seeing more than about ten people at the poll at the same time as I was there. This morning I showed up at 6:57 AM and was greeted by a line of at least 60 people waiting to vote. As I got into the line, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this election was indeed something special. Oh sure, the media has portrayed this as an election like no other, and this is certainly true, if only because of the historic nature of the candidates. But it dawned on me that it was more than that.

The poll worker told me this morning that our small precinct usually was lucky to have about 23% voter turnout at any election. Today is going to be a record breaker.

As I waited in the line to get my ballot, I had a pleasant conversation with a man who originally comes from Arkansas. We wiled the time away with small talk and stories of our experiences. He was there with a relative, a first time voter who was excited to cast her first ballot. People in front and in back of me were smiling, actually happy to see a line at the poll, and no one was grumbling about the wait-a wait they have never experienced at this polling location before. To top it off, it’s raining buckets here today in Southern California, something that always makes the “beautiful people” a bit frumpy. Even the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of an electorate ready to make history.

As we neared the table where we got our ballots, my line companion said something to me that made me think about how far we’ve come in this country. He told me that back where he came from, a small town in Arkansas, when he was a kid,¬†people like him and me¬†would never be seen laughing and smiling and shooting the breeze together. I said that maybe we would, but there probably wouldn’t be a bunch of smiling faces around us. At that he smiled and agreed. He was black; I am white.

It’s an historic election to be sure. The fate of our country is literally at stake after eight years of destructive policies and malevolent stewardship. The people of America know this and are coming out in droves to make their voices heard.

I remember when I first voted in a presidential election. I felt proud to mark my ballot for Bill Clinton. Back then it felt like I was helping to “change the guard” by putting a younger man in the highest office in the land. I was pretty happy with Clinton as president, but his was no groundbreaking administration, his challenges not so daunting compared to ours today. In retrospect, I think that my feelings in that election were more about me, about finally being able to be part of “adult America.” Today I felt different. Today, this election, and my part in it, was not about writing a page in my personal history. Today’s election is all about us. This will be the election to remember. This is the one that counts.

If you haven’t voted yet, go vote. If you’ve already voted, thank you. See you on the other side.

(cross posted at Bring It On!)