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Nothing was going to keep me away from seeing Barack Obama at Fifth-Third Field here in Dayton, Ohio today. Having him speak at the facility that brought life back into downtown Dayton after a 40-year decline meant a lot to the citizens of our community. When the park opened in 2000, it was like a ray of sunshine had finally broken through the clouds. After eight years of George Bush, Dick Cheney and John McCain's policies, Dayton is hurting again. Our great renewal was stalled. Today, I could feel that renewal come back alive again. Everyone at the rally was positive, upbeat and friendly, including the police and Secret Service. Like Fifth-Third Field, Barack Obama is a ray of sunshine breaking through the dark cloudy mess the Republican Party has created this decade.

I've added a dedication below the photos.

Enough of my babbling on. Here are some photos from the rally. Enjoy.

Fifth-Third Field filling up.
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Future voters soaking it all in.
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Mayor McLin making her opening remarks.
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Pre-Obama excitement.
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An Air Force Veteran who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
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Governor Ted Strickland calling for Ohio to turn blue this year.
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Obama can even bring Ohio Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines together.
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Female voters enthused about Obama.
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Two distinguished ladies happy to be participating in the rally.
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Dayton crowd doing a "Wave for Change" before Obama arrives.
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Police and Secret Service keeping everyone safe.
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Barack Obama arrives.
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A proud American ready for change.
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White men for Obama.
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Obama had us all cheering.
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Dayton for Change
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Obama talking about the change we need.
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Look out John McCain, we mean business.
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Looking Presidential.
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A moment in the bright sunshine to collect thoughts.
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More Presidential
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Barack Obama was serious today.
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Obama with his Sgt. Ryan David Jopek bracelet.
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Onlookers lined up along the right-field fence on First Street.
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Obama sign in one of our rehabilitated buildings.
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Daytonians contemplating the speech.
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Dragons scoreboard showing the change we need.
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More Presidential.
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Hope flows through the crowd.
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Obama working the crowd.
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Two ladies not wanting it to be over.
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Winding down. Obama working the last of the crowd.
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Resting on the way back home. This young man learned a lot today.
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This is the second Barack Obama rally I've attended in Dayton. Each one has brought out some feelings I want to share with all of you. This diary is dedicated to three people who, through their support, gave me the opportunity to have a good life. After reading this you'll know why Barack Obama connects with me.

My mother was a single parent who got up and went to work every day. Through her hard work and dedication, my brother and I were able to receive a higher education without going into debt. Despite having health problems, she always saw to it that we stayed inspired about learning and knew right from wrong. Although not as traveled and world-wise as Ann Dunham, my mother had some commonalities with her. My mother also died way too early at 53 from cancer.

We lived with my grandparents. My grandmother was a strong person who guided me through a lot. She raised five kids alone in Montana during the Depression while working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. There wasn't a family member or neighbor she wouldn't help. Her love of politics rubbed off and I remember her saying that Republicans would rob you blind if you let them get too much power. She cringed when Social Security numbers started being used for ID and held her ground when asked to show it. From her, I learned that it was necessary to take a stand when your inner convictions were at stake. My brother and I were basically her second set of children.

Where I differ from Barack Obama is that I have nowhere near the talent and skill he posseses and I'm 100% white. But we had a black woman take care of my brother and me for about 5 years when we were too young to be latchkey kids. My grandmother also worked until I was in high school. I've often been teased for having a "nanny" or "maid" while growing up, as we were not wealthy but middle class. But those who teased me never knew the true value of my experience.

The woman who took care of us each day while our mother and grandmother worked was named Minnie. She was a hard worker, very humble and had a great sense of humor. Minnie came to work at our house every weekday during the early 1960s when the civil rights struggle was in full bloom. She and I would talk about what was happening on the TV and I learned how to see it from her perspective. We watched the MLK "I Have a Dream" speech together. She loved her soap operas on TV and I would tease her when she said she liked Elvis. She was an Angels fan and I was a Reds fan. My brother and I would sometimes stay over at her house on the west side of Dayton for the weekend, where we learned that people are basically the same everywhere you go.

The last time I saw Minnie was when my wife and I stopped by in Texas to show her our baby son in the late 1970s. She told me she was proud to know she helped to keep my brother and I safe so we could grow up to be productive citizens. When we drove away, Minnie was on the porch waving goodbye with a tear in her eye to match the one in mine. It was then I realized how important our shared experience was.

Here's a photo of Minnie during that last visit. She wasn't about to let us leave on an empty stomach.
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So, as this diary ends, I'm dedicating it to my mother, my grandmother, and especially to Minnie. If they were alive today, I know all three of them would have been at this rally with me.

Originally posted to OHeyeO on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 04:17 PM PDT.

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