I believe the reason that Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech lingers so heavily in our nation's collective imagination is simply because our nation is built on a foundation of improbable and seminally impossible dreams. This nation started with the absurd idea that a loose confederation of colonies could beat the mighty British Empire and a dream that a country could be governed without a king. We dreamed that if a people were allowed to worship however they saw fit, allowed to freely voice their discontent, and choose their own leaders the result would not be anarchy but greater civil harmony. It was a dream that power could be decided with the ballot box instead of bullets, which is the foundation to our democracy.
It was the fantastical dream of two bicycle builders that gave humanity the ability to fly. And the dream of a great leader that put a man on the moon. It was a life-long dreamer from New Jersey who allowed us to light and record the world. It was a dream that drove waves immigrants fleeing starvation, persecution, and genocide to our shores. What they came seeking was not simply sanctuary, but a hope for a better future. They came to live in a land of peace, prosperity, and dreams.
At the outset of our formation, a single phrase both defined and dominated our nation's soul: "that all men are created equal." While we have yet to achieve this exulted goal, with every year it grows closer. It was this great dream which led women to march, to sit, and to starve for their rights. And it was this dream that consumed the life of a preacher from Atlanta. He dreamed of equality and hoped--against ample evidence to the contrary--that he could appeal to his country's soul with love and patience.
While even a decade ago few could imagine a half-black child born in Hawaii and raised by a single mother could ever become the leader of the free world, Barack Obama did. This election once again affirms that America is the place where improbable dreams become possibilities. We are only limited by our imagination and are still a nation of dreamers.