SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) -- The United States of America received a new face and a new heart on November 4, 2008. It took place before the eyes of the nation and the world. We had watched and listened for two years as a young athletic kind of man had traveled across the country telling us that he could make a positive difference if we would give him the privilege of being our president.
He was short on experience, but he had no apparent lack of confidence. He fit perfectly the advice I give to college speech students: “Stand up! Speak Up! Shut Up! Sit Down!” A nation began to listen as he called for change and talked about hope.
On Tuesday, Barack Obama was declared the overwhelming choice of the American people to be their next president. I stayed close to the television until after Senator John McCain, with his beautiful and dynamic running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, standing beside him, had delivered his altruistic concession speech.
A short time later, President Elect Barack Obama, awakened a gigantic crowd and a nation of television viewers with a speech that would merit an “A” while following my talking tips -- he stood up, spoke up, shut up and then greeted his running mate, Senator Joe Biden, then his wife and children, kids destined to be loved by millions of adoring citizens, then he welcomed his extended family and when all had left he stood alone and later, somewhere, sat down.
Across the nation and throughout the world millions of people watched, prayed, shouted, rejoiced, sang, worshiped and cried. More than once I have thought of the late, Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember that day, April 4, 1968, when Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. I was living in Decatur, Illinois. Dr. King’s special friend, the Rev. Dr. James Earl Massey, named by Christianity Today magazine as one of the 25 most influential preachers of the past 50 years, was in our city later that week. On radio and television appearances and in public meetings he helped bring peace to our troubled hearts. I later appeared on a special program in Decatur, with Mrs. King.
The night before he was killed, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech in Memphis, Tennessee, with unforgettable words: “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land . . . .”
Everyday the last eight years, with few exceptions, I have prayed for President Bush and Vice President Cheney. I ask you to join me with that same kind of prayer support for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I have not met either Senator Obama or Governor Palin, but look forward to doing so. Years ago I met Senator Biden and in March of this year stood beside Senator McCain, with pen and paper in hand to take notes as he spoke to a large standing room only crowd. One step after he finished and we were shaking hands and exchanging greetings.
Billy Graham, who will be 90 years old Friday, November 7, 2008, released this statement the day after Obama’s historic election, “President Elect Barack Obama faces many challenges, and I urge everyone to join me in pledging our support and prayers as he begins the difficult task ahead.”
Following the election, Sarah Palin said, “Let us unite. Let us all work together. In Acts 23:11, St. Paul, quoting Exodus 22:28, writes: “For it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”
We are taught to honor, respect and pray for our leaders. They appreciate our prayers. They were elected to serve and will be held accountable for their stewardship of office.