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I was always a spoiled, bossy little thing, so back in preschool, I wanted to be president of the United States. Big dreams for a little girl of Japanese ancestry in laid-back little Hawaii. One of the classrooms had the portraits of presidents along the wall near the ceiling. As I studied George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and the rest, I understood even then that such a dream would never be, and I moved on to other things. The land of opportunity had borders I would never cross. I grew up surrounded by strong women, including women attorneys, and I saw on television and in movies other portrayals of tough, independent women. I was fortunate enough to take for granted that I could do and be anything I wanted—that I didn't have to fight the same fight of the generation before me. Practicing law was not a pipe dream, but the natural course of my life. What's more, people in my profession accept me as an equal player and not something to be looked over or around or through.

Barack Obama will do the same for children being born today. There is still a great challenge for our country to deal with our checkered history. It may be a terrible thing to say, but for the first time in my life, I can foresee the day when Americans will take for granted that anyone can become anything. The real genius of America is not our military or economy, but our people and those who are willing to face change and even push for it. America has reinvented itself before the world. We, as a nation are truly striving toward a more perfect union, from sea to shining sea.

— Gay of Mililani, Hawaii