I can't stop smiling today.
Honestly. Going online and seeing the overwhelming reaction, after being there to witness it firsthand last night as history was made...I just - it's been such an incredible experience. I will never ever forget it. Seeing the pictures of people cheering and crying and being so amazed and happy just fills my heart with so much joy.
I know we have a long road ahead of us, but I said the Pledge of Allegiance last night for the first time in 7 years, along with 200,000 people, and actually meant it. I feel like maybe I won't have to be ashamed of my government and my country and my fellow citizens for much longer. (Except you, California. Yeah. You. Over there next to the ocean. Fuck off. I knew there was a reason why I left you. Florida, you're on the shit list too.)
I know there are some people on my FL who don't feel the same way. Today I got on Facebook and someone's status actually said, "Way to elect Obama Bin Laden, America." The ignorance of some people astounds me. Why don't you get your facts straight? Seriously. You just look like a moron.
I am getting off on tangents, when I really just wanted to come on and write about the rally. So that's what I'm going to do.
I went downtown to my friend Christina's house, she both had the tickets and conveniently lived right next to Grant Park. By the time we got in line it had stretched for blocks, apparently people had started lining up in the early afternoon and we watched them start letting people in on CNN at around 6. We didn't get in line until after 8, and it had been split into two lines, one for people with tickets and one for people without. We all kind of just trundled along, thousands of us so eager and excited and breathless. The weather was gorgeous, everyone was polite and courteous. This was way bigger than all of us.
All the while everyone around us in line were on their phones, either talking to people watching the news or checking the latest numbers or whatever. Ahh technology. You are great. Randomly, we ended up in line next to my friend Annie's boyfriend Tim - seriously, most random thing ever, in a group of 200,000 how do I end up next to Tim in line?! So weird! And awesome. :) We lost him after a minute in the swell of people, and finally pushed our way to the front of the line where they were checking tickets. A very kind gentleman let Beth use his extra ticket, so Christina, Beth and I all got to be there together for it!
We literally ran until we got to security, and then once we passed it we hit a line of trees and walked through and there spread before us was just a huge sea of people. Honestly, it was incredible. They had these huge monitors set up, unfortunately we could not see the stage where we were standing because of all the media tents. We pushed our way through the throng and got as close as we could, which in hind sight was not very smart because if we'd stayed back about 15 feet we could've seen the jumbotron perfectly. Oh well.
They had CNN on and they were getting more and more numbers. They called Pennsylvania and Ohio for Obama, and there was such this nervous, excited energy in the air, helicopters circling overhead, city buildings lit up with "USA" and "VOTE 2008" (love you, Chicago).
When that Breaking News icon flashed, and they called Virginia for Obama - it was like nothing I'd ever seen. WE WON VIRGINIA. We won a state that hadn't voted Democrat since 1964. That's just - it was unreal. I looked at Beth and she looked at me and I remember saying over and over again, "He did it!" He won Virginia. He won Pennsylvania. He won Ohio. He was projected to win in Florida. He'd done it.
As soon as CNN put up their "Barack Obama Elected President (CNN Projection)" the whole place just lost it. People were screaming, cheering, jumping up and down, hugging each other, crying, waving flags. This continued as more states were called for Obama. There was so much joy, so much relief, so much wonder. It was unlike anything I've ever seen, and so humbling to be a part of. It was history. We watched history get made, we were there, we were a part of it. It's a story that will last generations.
CNN put on McCain's speech, which I thought was heartfelt and moving. Honestly, I like John McCain, and I was considering him as a candidate until he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. I thought he was gracious and spoke beautifully and passionately and his love for our country came through even through his disappointment.
I did laugh, however, when he thanked Sarah Palin and the guy standing next to us shouted out, "Yeah, THANKS Sarah Palin!" Because I am not a saint. And it was hilarious. And later he totally got my Battlestar Galactica reference when I looked at Beth and said, "so say we all." It was awesome.
There was a brief interlude when someone plugged in their iPod and we got to listen to some songs, and then we said the Pledge of Allegiance which is a very cool thing to do alongside hundreds of thousands of people. Some woman came out to sing the National Anthem and she got some of the words wrong but we won't hold that against her. A bishop came out and spoke after that, and then it was time for Our New President Elect.
My heart stopped when he stepped up to that microphone. His speech was beautiful but heavy - it was not a haha I won! speech, but the speech of a man who knows that his work started right then, right that second, who knows that there is no time to waste, who sees the problems and wants to fix them. To see Jesse Jackson crying, to see Oprah crying, to have tears in my eyes as I stood with my friends who were also crying - this election has meant so many things to so many people, and it's really happened, and that is just such a huge thing to take in. All throughout the night we chanted, OBAMA, YES WE CAN, YES WE DID. There is a movement in this country that has gone beyond race, beyond age, beyond party lines, and I for one am really excited to see where we go from here.
I am also excited to be done with the negative ads. Guess what, GOP, it worked for you in 2004 but we didn't buy it this time. Let's all go back to the drawing board together and fix this, huh? I think it's time to clean up the mess of the last 8 years.
Of course my camera battery died before we even got inside the park. I got some shots on Christina's camera and on my phone of the crowd. I am putting the last bit behind a cut but I wanted to include some AP photos and pieces of Obama's speech, because I just reread it and it really inspired me, and every time I look at photos of the people rejoicing, I just feel so light and weightless and happy inside. This is our time, America. Let's get back on track.( Yes We Did )This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
Welcome, Mr. President Elect. It's real good to see you.