This past Tuesday (Oct. 28), Barack Obama held a campaign rally in my hometown of Harrisonburg, VA! And I managed to go! It was, in a word, intense. It was also the first time in almost 150 years that this town hosted a presidential campaign rally.
The day started for me at about noon. I grabbed a quick lunch, then headed over to the JMU Convocation Center, where the event was to be held. Traffic was completely gridlocked, so I didn't even bother trying to park near the venue. Instead, I parked at a nearby movie theater (one of the designated overflow areas), and walked the half-mile to the convocation center.
On arrival, I saw the huge lines of people waiting to get in. There were two lines, one for each entrance - one line appeared to be made up of people who had camped out overnight, complete with tents, and the other line looked like new arrivals. After some wandering, I met up with a local friend who generously let me join his group, all of whom had been there since before I even woke up that morning.
After a few hours of standing and waiting (and watching FBI agents drive on the sidewalk), the line began moving. It started slow, but gradually picked up speed as we moved closer to the door. It also became more cramped, and by the time we could see the entrance, the line had transformed into a tightly-huddled mass of people (I'm surprised no one was trampled).
We went through the metal detectors (Secret Service uniforms are lame, by the way, I've seen mall security with more impressive uniforms), and started looking for seats. Our initial seating wasn't too bad, we were in the upper bleachers, and I didn't think we'd be able to do much better. But, one of the people in our group, a mother who seems to get a thrill from pushing the rules, decided she was going to find us some better seats. Twenty minutes later, she managed to sneak us into the reserved section, right next to the ramp Obama would be walking down to get to the stage! Awesome! I couldn't have hoped for better seats, it was great!
The rest of the evening was a complete blur. There were a few opening speakers (including the current governor, and his predecessor), followed by Obama himself. And, I knew it would be a riveting speech, but this just completely blew me away. Mr. Obama is one of the most powerful and inspirational speakers I've ever seen, and I would be damn proud to have him as a president.
He shook hands with various people on the way out, and while I didn't get to shake his hand, my friend (the one who invited me to come along in the first place) did, as well as some of the kids in our group.