I'm working on four hours of sleep today, so it's taken me awhile to get my brain to the point where I could write a post. I was at the rally in Grant Park last night. I had a ticket, but ended up in the non-ticketed area because I had two friends with me and could only get in one with my ticket. I think we saw about as much in the non-ticketed area as we would have seen anywhere else, so it wasn't a big deal. The crowd wasn't too big when we entered at 8:30pm, and we made our way to an empty spot near two big Jumbotrons. I don't know how many Jumbotrons they had in that section, but there were a few. Enough so that wherever you stood, you could see and hear what was going on. Each Jumbotron was tuned to CNN, and my favorite parts of the night were when projections would come in. People barely listened to the chatter between commentators, but as soon as we heard the music that signaled a projection, everyone shut up and paid attention to the screens.
Projections for Obama were met with claps and whoops. Projections for McCain were, um, not. The biggest outburst of excitement came when Virginia was projected for Obama, even before we had heard from the West Coast, and people started to realize Obama had done it. Then shortly after Virginia, the race was given to Obama. People cried. People hugged others they didn't even know. People cheered. Chants of "Yes we can" rung through the crowd at times.
Sen. John McCain gave his concession speech, which I didn't completely hear because people were talking. I knew at the time that what I did hear sounded gracious, and I listened to it today online and feel the same way. I feel bad for him in some ways because I think he could have run a different campaign. But he chose the George Bush way, not the John McCain way. I'm sure he will be rethinking that today, among many other things (Sarah Palin, anyone?).
When Obama stepped out on the stage for his speech, the roar from the crowd was deafening, and people continued to cheer throughout. Again, chants of "Yes we can" rang out while Obama spoke. People started crying again. Some guy, I think he was homeless, wandered through the crowd with tears running down his face. We stood there together -- black, white, brown, gay, straight, you name it. We stood there, shoulder to shoulder, and listened to our new president. The man who we had elected. It was an awesome moment. I am glad that I didn't go home early. I am glad I stood there for hours, with feet and back aching. I was glad I was there to witness history.
It really was a moment where you just had to be there to feel what went through the crowd. It only proves even more what I had said in other posts. Obama is different. I truly believe he is someone who will work as hard as he can to unite, not divide. And it was evident in the diverse crowd last night -- because there we were, united.