Monday, February 25, 2008

10,000 Maniacs

The doors weren't supposed to open until 2:15 PM, but we arrived at The University of Toledo to get in line well before noon to hear Barack Obama speak. He was scheduled to take the stage at 4:20 Sunday afternoon. Already at 11:45 AM, the line wrapped around the building, which I knew from my research could seat 9,000 comfortably. We found out later that 10,000 were allowed inside, and an estimated 5,000 people were turned away!

We watched the arena fill up, and I saw people from all walks of life, including this young boy with his sign:

Everyone waited patiently for Senator Obama. Nobody fought over seats. People helped those who had trouble with stairs and bleachers.

Hooray for Buddy Bill and his political geekiness and love for the news. The preferred seating tickets he procured put us in a seating area with access to the floor if we wanted. (We didn't.) His sense of urgency to arrive early (others were there much earlier!) put us in the 8th row! Close enough to take photos like this, once Senator Obama arrived.

Senator Obama arrived on time, and began speaking only 10 minutes late. It wasn't a speech. He spoke TO us, not AT us, even though the place was packed to the rafters. Literally. "Cute baby," he said to a woman several rows away from him, "I have to make sure to kiss that baby." (I could almost see the Secret Service guys drawing straws to see who was checking the diaper for a bomb!) We aren't red states or blue states, we're The United States. And I thought about who I was sitting with - Buddy Bill; many years older than I am, retired and fighting insurance and retirement issues, his College Kid and a college friend; with worries about loans and future jobs, my friend W; a Toledo Police Officer who is also a minority and spends her days dealing with crime, drug dealers and the effects of this lousy economy, and me; a school counselor trying to help kids who are almost homeless sometimes, in an auto town that's losing jobs like crazy. All of us united by this same man.

And there was this reminder someone in attendance:

I was just a tiny part of the big picture, and you can't even see the thousands of people behind me.
Powerful. Postive. And yes, hopeful. Because where would be without hope?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

karen! that was such a great post!!!

thanks for shring your thoughts and your photos. I really REALLY REALLY like that little kids sign. I think sometimes the world may not seem so complicated if people give something a chance, much like back when Lennon was asking for people to think a little differently.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 12:36:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must have been a very "connected" feeling to be sitting amongst so many people all hoping for the same things.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 1:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger becky c. said...

Wow!! Just wow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 4:47:00 PM EST  
Blogger La Cabeza Grande said...

No Red states or Blue states. That is a message that should resonate with each of us. It is too easy to divide people along imaginary lines.

Love the simplicity of the little boy's sign.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 12:39:00 PM EST  
Anonymous KTMay said...

March 4th should be quite interesting this year!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 3:13:00 PM EST  
Blogger Sourire11 said...

Ok this was a great post!!! Thanks so much for sharing the experience - I'm totally jealous, btw. I tried to get tickets to the debate but sadly I didn't win any of the lotteries I entered. Can't wait for March 4th!

Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 5:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Wendee said...

Every time I see a posting about someone I "sorta" know attending an Obama rally I get the chills! I haven't been this excited / focused about an election since college. Fingers crossed and spreadin' the message! Thanks for sharing!

Monday, March 3, 2008 at 1:56:00 AM EST  
Blogger Beth said...

Your pictures turned out so much better than mine. :( and also - boo hoo for the outcome of the primary.

Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 5:55:00 PM EST  

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