Over the past decade I've found myself straddling the ideological fence when it comes to the political arena. Having spent the first 17 years of my life in Los Angeles, I grew up in communities that pushed good-natured American values and even attended Social Justice classes at my Christian elementary and high schools. But, I also grew up in a very conservative family that gave money to the Republican Party and I routinely attended church, chapel and local youth group functions. It was because of this part of my life that I began to shoot shotgun sports competitively and ended up on the National Shotgun Team by the time I was 15 years old. After I graduated high school, I spent five years living and training shotgun shooting at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Through my experiences, I've learned how much can be accomplished by one person, and how much more can be accomplished by a group of hard-working, disciplined people banding together. But just as importantly, I've also learned that our first loyalties are to the values and principles that illuminate the moral fabric of the American people. Here, we can point to the traditional American values of freedom, equality and respect for human life that have repeatedly led to progress within our nation and to America's leadership in the international community.
I've also come to notice that this presidential campaign is showcasing one of the greatest exemplars of the great American tradition that we've seen in quite a while. Barack Obama represents this nation's tradition of inspiring cooperation and tolerance - of protecting our personal freedoms - and of respecting human life, wherever it may be found. A few weeks ago in Berlin, Barack Obama powerfully delivered America's message to more than 200,000 Germans; a strong diplomatic skill that I think we'll need if we want our president to lead the international community and prevent our soldiers from dying due to failed diplomatic efforts.
During my travels to competitions around the world, I learned firsthand that people in all the countries of the world are all real people with lives and friends and families just like us. Barack Obama understands the world's common humanity and is taking traditional American values to the world stage - advocating freedom, equality and respect for human life both in America and abroad. I believe it's a traditional American pastime to spread these values, so on Nov. 4, I'll be voting for Barack Obama - to preserve these traditional American values.