Along with my friend and fellow Obama supporter from school, Matt, I took the day off and went to Reunion Arena to witness history! We met up at I-35 & Royal and then carpooled downtown, arriving at the Arena at about 6:30 a.m.
The doors were going to open at 10:30 and there was already a line! Fortunately, we were very close to the front of it and knew that when the time came, we’d have a great spot on the floor.
After four hours of waiting, the doors opened and we made our way through security and secured our place on the floor about 20 feet from the podium!
When Barack took the stage at about 1:00, it was a powerful and awe-inspiring moment. Anyone who knows me well or follows this blog knows how much I admire him, and to be among the thousands cheering out our support today was a special thing.
I remember back to ’05 and ’06, listening to his podcasts and reading his books and
wondering if holding my breath hoping that he’d run. And now, here he is, in Dallas, Texas, compelling us to be a part of this change that is required by what MLK called, "the fierce urgency of now."
Particularly inspiring about this address before 17,000 people who took the day off and stood in line for hours to hear a speech that is freely available on YouTube or CSPAN, is when you consider this story he shares about his campaign for US Senate in "The Audacity of Hope" on page 6:
Mostly, though, I just traveled, often driving alone, first from ward to ward in Chicago, then from county to county and town to town, eventually up and down the state, past miles and miles of cornfields and beanfields and train tracks and silos…
I had to rely on friends or acquaintances to open their houses to whoever might come, or to arrange for my visit to their church, union hall, bridge group, or Rotary Club. Sometimes, after several hours of driving, I would find just two or three people waiting for me around a kitchen table. I would have to assure the hosts that the turnout was fine and compliment them on the refreshments they’d prepared. Sometimes I would sit through a church service and the pastor would forget to recognize me, or the head of the union local would let me speak to his members just before announcing that the union had decided to endorse someone else.
[He talks a bit about listening to people around the state, and then:]
I told them that they were right: government couldn’t solve all their problems. But with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation. More often than not, folks would nod in agreement and ask how they could get involved. And by the time I was back on the road, with a map on the passenger’s seat, on my way to my next stop, I knew once again just why I’d gone into politics.
I felt like working harder than I’d ever worked in my life.
It’s just a fantastic book from cover-to-cover and if anyone reading this is still unsure about how they’re going to vote in the March 4 primary, please email me at brianrhea[at]gmail.com with specific questions and if I can answer them, I’ll be happy to help.
So, I took the book with me on the very unlikely chance that I’d get close enough to the Senator to ask for an autograph. After an amazing speech, as he was shaking hands, Matt and I worked our way up as close as possible and as he was working the crowd just in front of us, I held my book forward and called, "Senator! Senator!" He looked right at me and said, "Give your book to the guy behind me."
I would love to have had a snapshot of the look on my face when it registered, "Barack Obama just spoke words to you."
Anyway, the guy told me to write my name inside the book and he’d take care of it. They collected several books and magazines this way and when Barack went backstage, fifteen minutes later somebody returned with our books signed!
"To Brian & Laura" is my handwriting, the signature at the bottom is that of the next President of the United States of America.
Needless to say, today was a special, special day. And if sometime in the future this interest in politics becomes more than just an interest, and I find myself alone in the Corolla with a map in the passenger seat going from precinct to precinct; this campaign, this movement, this man and what I saw today will have played a major role in making that happen.