It's funny what being on a boat in foreign waters will do to your sense of patriotism. Or, in my case, how it can fill a once-vacant sense of patriotism. I'm not ashamed to say that, for the last eight years, I have had very little love for my country. Dubya--or more to the point, his fear-mongering--shattered any fleeting notions of my American Dream. The line between patriotism and jingoism became dangerously blurred. But being out there on the water, looking up and seeing that flag was reassuring. I can't explain it, but it made me feel a little bit more proud to have come from the U.S. Regardless of how fucked up it was.

"The true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope."
- Barack Obama

What I felt out there, bobbing around in the Caribbean, pales in comparison to what I felt last night, listening to President-Elect Obama's victory speech. Watching the faces in Grant Park, I felt a restored sense of pride and hope for our country. To participate in the election of the first African-American president of the United States...damn. Amazing.

I've been alive through four presidencies: Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. I've always wondered what it was like to have a president worthy of respect. A president whom I would shake hands with. A president worthy of the title. As far as I could tell, that hope died in 1963. I'm proud to be alive in 2008.