It all started out when Sung Hee from the St Louis Obama campaign office called me a couple of weeks ago. I had indicated that I was willing to volunteer to canvass out of state. With McCain leading handily (much to my liberal chagrin) in Oklahoma, Obama wanted me to travel to Missouri and help him win there. How could I resist?
What happens below the fold is a culmination of events that led me to Springfield, Missouri and a weekend I will never forget.
When Sung Hee had first contacted me, I was unemployed and in need of a ride to Missouri and accommodations once I got there... her work was cut out for her. Through the wonderful network of volunteers and campaign managers she was able to connect me with a Nigerian born US citizen who was leaving from Oklahoma City to Joplin. Last week he and I talked on the phone and arranged to meet up and travel together to canvass in the Joplin area.
A former employer came by my house on Sunday last week and asked me to come back to work for him again. I started on Monday and now not only was I once again employed after several months of job searching, but I was on my way to meeting the man that had brought hope back into my world.
Two days later I received an email directly from the Obama website that appeared to be a personal invitation to see Barack Obama speak at a rally in Springfield, Missouri. Knowing that Joplin was only about an hour away I crossed my fingers and clicked the RSVP button. I called my new Nigerian friend and told him about the email, he had clicked the RSVP too. The wheel had been set in motion.
Early Saturday morning he arrived to pick me up and we rode together to Joplin and three hours later we were in the campaign office on Main Street in Joplin. We asked them if they were planning to go to the rally in Springfield and they were not only planning the trip but had four bus loads of volunteers that would be riding to the event with special tickets to get up close to the stage for the speech. We joined the caravan and with our special blue ticket passes in hand we followed the buses that evening after a great day of canvassing potential voters in Joplin.
Once we arrived at Parkview High School we were lucky enough to find parking and with our magic blue tickets we were ushered in and through the security station to a spot on the field just to the left of the stage. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill came out and offered her usual high octane surrogate speech and then introduced Michele Obama to the stage.
Michele ran out to the stage in a lovely lavender ensemble as the crowd roared. I had seen her on television and maybe it was the live viewing, but there seemed to be a much more confident tone in her voice, as if she could see the light at the end of this long tunnel. She was amazing and after several minutes of encouragement and genuine gratitude for our efforts she declared "Barack is ready! Barack is ready to be the next president of the United States!"
Instead of quoting, I will let you watch their speeches I have linked here.
After this amazing speech, much of which I had heard in previous rallies and a lot of new material too, we cheered and tried to maintain our spots near the railing. He didn't disappoint and traveled all around the stage shaking our hands and thanking us all.
Barack Obama shook my hand...
I still can't believe that it really happened. The next president of the USA shook my hand and thanked me. It was only a fleeting moment as thin as the sliver moon hanging on the horizon that night. I will never forget that night or that moment.
Fate had brought me to this point so I shouldn't have been amazed when this morning at our hotel room back in Joplin I wound up eating breakfast with three members of the original Harlem Globetrotters who were in town for a reunion event. Marques Haynes and I spoke about Barack Obama and all of the prominent Democrats he has known through the years. He and the rest of these world famous men acted as if they were witnessing something special in this history making election. It is saying something when men who have traveled the globe and met with thousands of great men and women along the way are as impressed with someone as much as they seemed to be with Obama. For the second day in a row, I was awed. This is a habit I could get used to.
Tomorrow I will go cast my vote early. My vote is not just for a man who I trust explicitly. My vote is for a nation that believes once again in a future for each of us. My vote is for the change we need. My vote is for Obama.