Lismore woman has reason to barrack for Obama

LIKE many Northern Rivers residents, Kirsty Spence thinks Barack Obama’s inauguration as president this morning is a change for the better for the US and the international community.

But unlike most locals, the Lismore resident went to Punahou High School on the island of Oahu in Hawaii – the same high school as Mr Obama.

“It makes me proud that I went to the same school as Mr Obama – a school that contributed to forming who he is today,” Mrs Spence said.

“I went to the school for a year when I was 16, though I was never at the school when he was there.
“I missed him by one year. He left in 1979 and I arrived at the school the following year in 1980.

“It would have been a special thing to be at the school at the same time, but it wasn’t to be.”

The local school teacher is a dual citizen of Australia and the US.

She was born in the US, but spent her childhood travelling between the two countries due to her father’s work.

Mrs Spence believes the election of Mr Obama will bring new possibilities of peace and prosperity.
“I think America is ready for a change. Mr Obama is young and will offer new solutions to the problems the country faces,” she said.

“I am planning to stay up for the inauguration – my husband might join me. I’m always proud to be an Australian and I’m proud to be an American today.”

Another local resident, Jill Ritson, of Lismore Heights, thinks the inauguration is an important moment in world history.

“I think it’s wonderful an African-American has been elected as president,” she said.

“It fulfils the dream of Martin Luther King and it also reminds me of when Kennedy was elected president.

“It is like the world has been given a new start. I think Bush made some mistakes. I hope Obama can learn from them and lead the world into a time of peace,” she said.

Mr Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States this morning in Washington.

Events to celebrate the historic moment are planned across Australia for most of the week.

The occasion will be marked with everything from Obama burgers and nightclubs parties to dignified breakfasts.

Inauguration breakfasts will be held today at the US embassy in Canberra and at consulates in capital cities.
– with AAP

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