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Young Obama Supporters Remember Election Victory

Young Obama Supporters Remember Election Victory

Young Obama Supporters Remember Election Victory

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It has been one year since Barack Obama's presidential election victory. The newest U.S. president has faced political and economic challenges at home and has yet to decide how the United States will handle the international war on terror. Some American youth gathered in small groups across the country to remember the excitement surrounding Mr. Obama's historic electoral victory.

It was one year ago, when young Barack Obama supporters at colleges across the country poured into the streets to celebrate his presidential election victory.

Now, cars casually cross the same intersection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that was flooded with students last year. But while the throngs of people may be gone, the message from supporters like Duke University student Giles Harrison-Conwill remains.

"Obama for me sort of shows that certain things that are unthinkable today, within nine months, six months, a year, can be possible," he said.

The Democratic National Committee group called "Obama for America" during the campaign changed its name to "Organizing for America" after Mr. Obama's Inauguration. State organizer Zack Hawkins says the group is the first grassroots team put together for a sitting president.

"It is a very, very special way to bring people in around not only the candidate, like they did during the campaign, but now supporting his agenda," Hawkins said. "Thirteen million e-mail addresses and the millions of people that voted now have a chance to stay as connected, if not more connected."

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It is fitting that on the anniversary of Mr. Obama's election win, supporters in Durham, North Carolina, chose to celebrate near a college campus. National exit polls indicated two-thirds of young voters between the ages of 18 - 29 voted for Mr. Obama. Hawkins says young Americans are the key to Mr. Obama's grassroots operation.

"They put together rallies. They work on getting people to commit to calling their members of Congress, getting people to make phone calls," Hawkins said. "They are very motivated students that support and understand the issues in front of us."

But volunteer Damian Smith says the younger generation can sometimes be the hardest to keep involved.

"Because a lot of them feel like 'Oh I voted, I have done my job', but you have a responsibility to your friends and neighbors to be active and participate in the community you live in," Smith noted.

Mr. Obama's supporters had another taste of victory late Saturday, when the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill that the president had pledged to push forward during his campaign. Now the bill has an uphill battle in the Senate before it can become law.

Smith says this fight is the responsibility he has been waiting for.

"Getting him elected was actually only part of the process," Smith said. "In order to achieve what you want, that's when the real work has to start. And you have to support that agenda that you voted for."

And supporters at the celebration proudly pointed out they have at least three more years to keep fighting for Mr. Obama's reforms.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.