DNC--Report from the field

A dear friend of mine, Linda Black, attended the DNC and wrote a spectacular account of her experience. I asked her if I could share, and she said yes. So tonight we have a special guest blog eye witness report. Thanks, Linda! Here's her story.

Sorry to all that thought I never made it back from the convention. Reg and I were on vacation in the Black Hills of S. Dakota last week and this is the first chance I have had to tell you about my experience.
Thursday, August 28, 2008 was an incredible day for me. I attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver. You should know that I have voted in every national election since I turned 18, but have missed many state and local opportunities to vote and I have never volunteered or been a part of the election process other than voting. I have done my share of complaining and wishing things were different , but I never ran for office or participated in a protest or a demonstration, never even put a sign in my yard.
I was fortunate enough to get a seat on one of three buses co-ordinated by the Larimer County Democrats. I am registered as "unaffiliated," but they did not care. Our small bus of 24 people, including the driver, left Loveland at 11:00 am. About half of those people are actively involved with the Democratic Party and the rest of us were just people that wanted the experience. It was an energetic, fun group and we were all excitedly getting to know each other when all fell silent as our driver informed us that we were on the clothing optional bus. So, I just stood up and took off my shirt and, after a few surprised looks, we all had a good laugh. (layering is mandatory in Colorado so, yes, I was wearing another shirt underneath)
We arrived at the Pepsi Center at about 12:30 pm where some chose to wait for a shuttle to Invesco Field and the rest of us decided to walk. We waited in line with hundreds of others for about an hour during which time we were lured by vendors of t-shirts, ribbons, hats and anything else that could have a picture of Obama printed on it. Friendly, helpful volunteers were stationed all along the route offering ice, cold bottles of water which saved at least a few lives as it was blistering hot in the sun. After entering Invesco, I had hours to kill before much of anything was to happen which was fine because I found out later that we were lucky to arrive so early. There were people that waited 3.5 hours just to enter the stadium.
This down time gave me the chance to meet many people from all over the U.S. When I asked them why they were there, not one of them mentioned Barack Obama, Sheryl Crow, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Stevie Wonder or anyone else that appeared on the podium. They did say they were there because they needed health care, child daycare, elder care, somebody to care. They were there because they want an opportunity to go to school, to start a business, to own a home, to retire someday. Many mentioned that they just want to be a part of making our country better, getting out of the Iraq war was uppermost on some minds, and most parents said they want to be sure America is a country that their children and grand-children can be proud of. All of them told me that they felt they could make a difference by getting more involved. They all said that it is up to each of us to do our part to get what each one of us needs and deserves. I saw all of America--babies and octogenarians, Hindu, Christians and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, black, brown, red, white and yellow, prosperous and poor, students and teachers, able and handicapped, unemployed, secretaries, and a ton of politicians.
But there was something that we all had in common, hope. Hope shone forth from every face in that stadium. Lights were not needed. We could have lit up the entire city of Denver with the electricity that pulsed through the crowd. It was a sea of red, white and blue--people clapping, cheering, waving what seemed like billions of flags and hoping to make a difference. I was bursting with pride in the state of Colorado which has become my home, my country, myself and all of the others that were there not because they think that a politician can "fix it," but because they think that we, the people, can.
After all the speeches and videos, music, food and fireworks, (which, by the way, were all fabulous) it was time to come back to reality. My reality was that myself and 79,999 of my new friends were all going to be trying to get home at the same time. Now, I have a pretty decent sense of direction but, unfortunately, the route I walked from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field was blocked off. It was dark, I do not know the area well, and, remember, 79,999 others are with me. I had the most marvelous walk all around Elitch Gardens and a lovely stroll along Cherry Creek parkway neither of which leads to parking lot B10. I do not own a cell phone and so relied upon the help and directions of many locals that were absolutely delightful and friendly, but clueless. Because I have a good sense of direction, I ended up behind the Pepsi Center where all the forktrucks, trash bins, and loading docks are located--no parking lot B10. At this point it was very dark and none of my 79,999 new friends were anywhere to be found. So, of course, I remembered what they always told us in school--when you are lost, ask someone in uniform. Eureka! Out walked a security guard and when I told him I was lost, he loaded me onto a cart and delivered me to my bus just like a celebrity. After walking a good 2 or 3 miles at breakneck pace because I thought I was going to be late and miss the bus, and then arriving looking like a rock star with my own, private escort, I discovered that I was the first one back out of all 3 buses---go figure.
The purpose of this long saga is not to persuade you to vote for any particular candidate or support a particular issue, but to show you that the people at the DNC were just ordinary folks like you and I. All of those I met were committed to doing something to make a better country, a better life, a better world. I have never been so proud to be an American. About 70% of those I met had, like myself, never gotten involved in the election process except to vote. We were all willing to start doing something to bring about the things we want for our country because, whomever wins the election in November, they cannot change our country---it is we, the people, that can.
Peace, Linda