Here is the first in what I hope will be a series – voters sharing their Election 2008 experiences. It came from my friend, Gary Houston. He prefaced it this way:
Our good friend Jane, for many months a happy warrior in the Obama campaign, recalls being at Grant Park here. We've known her since she was born. The poignancy of her rapture is the real deal. Also click the link at the bottom for a great roll of Obama campaign moments.
Jane’s story, in her own words
Last night was such an incomparable experience that I don't really know how to put it in words. More than 100,000 people were present, filling a park that is blocks long (and later the streets like a thick blanket).
...And I felt comfortable and at home with each and every one of them; it was like nothing I have ever come close to experiencing, not even close enough to know that it could be real. Not even close enough to know how far away I have always been from it, how I've always looked at certain people and, with a smile that passed for amicable, hidden something both from myself and from them that was fear, judgment, misunderstanding, so much cold, uncrossable distance. Just by being there together, we knew one another to be on the same side of that great divide. Just by cheering, jumping, clapping, laughing, screaming at the top of my lungs every time we won a state or a district I felt a brilliant kinship with complete strangers on every side of me, stretching farther than I could see in every direction.
A group of middleaged African-American women behind us silently shared their popcorn with my friends and I. Later, when it was getting colder out, one had to go home to take care of personal affairs. She gifted us with her blanket so that we wouldn't be sitting on the damp, chilly ground and I just broke out in tears. It was such a simple gesture, and yet it said so much on so many levels. So much love and peace in that place. Such a heightened sense of awareness of one another as fellow humans instead of nuisances, obstacles, possible adversaries. (And they were predicting violence, riots! Oh, they should have known better!)
And then they announced that Obama would be our next president and we all just lost our minds, jumping high in the air and grabbing one another, stranger on stranger with tears rolling down our faces that didn't stop through the entire speech, and haven't completely stopped even now for me. I still get choked up when I think about that moment. I didn't know that that emotion you see in the movies was legitimate, that laughing, crying, sobbing, heart attack feeling of consuming, infectious joy. Crying is cathartic when you're sad. It's absolutely inebriating when you're overcome with bliss.
Oh, to see a man standing before the people with the words "elected president" scrolling underneath him, whose words will be printed in history books rather than comedic calendars and bathroom readers. To see an intelligent, articulate, caring individual who does not and will not promote the dumbing down of the American public modestly and gracefully thank his wife, the "rock of his family" with such honest respect and genuine love. To see a party on the other side of the world, American flags waving in the air as limbs tangled in celebration, to feel like maybe, just maybe I'll be able to be proud to be an American again, that I won't feel the need to distance myself from my nationality when abroad but rather carry it proudly on my sleeve.
Two thirds of my life have been lived under a Bush regime. Every election that has really mattered to me has ended in heartbreak and gripping bitterness. To be quite honest, I don't think I really believed it would happen. I was sure that the dirty tricks would be enough again, that we'd be going down a deep, dark, bottomless well for at least the next 4 years, that there wouldn't be any hope left after those years were over. I know that this election is just the first step and that there is much work ahead of us, but something, something had to happen right now, right here, and it has! It did!
Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!!!!!!
THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Jane Gaspar is a freelance photographer currently residing in East Humboldt Park. Though she took several semester's worth of classes in photography at Columbia College Chicago, she has been primarily self-educated (due to lack of funds) through travel, research and books such as A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. She has diligently followed and admired Barack Obama's campaign for the past 18 months.
Send me your story about this historic election. Write about your voting experience, your expectations, your candidate, or anything else relevant to the elections. If you traveled to another state or worked the polls, give us your take on what you saw, what you learned. Please include a short bio that will give OpEdNews readers an idea of who you are. Oral histories are a great way to breathe life into dry headlines. Share those memories while they’re still fresh in your mind. Submissions to: Joan@OpEdNews.com I can’t wait to hear from you!