The Beautiful Reality

When I learned that Hillary would be at Independence Hall with the Obama’s and Bill and Chelsea – I had to be there. That the first female candidate for president would be rallying at the birthplace of our country seemed profound and I wanted to witness it.

As it turns out, I didn’t plan all that well. Apparently, while I was hanging out in a coffee shop reading a book, people were lining up to get in. By the time I exited the subway at 2nd Street around 5:30 pm, the line to get into the rally was – no lie – a mile long. Undeterred, I found a spot at the barrier fence where I could mostly see the Jumbotron and waited.

rally

It looks like a crime scene, but it’s really a rally!

While standing there, I struck up a conversation with a man wearing a green hat who’d waited in that mile long line for two hours before he decided to cut his losses and find a spot to see and hear the speeches. I met an Irishwoman who’d traveled to the United States specifically to witness this historic election. She, like me, had made the trip to Old City by herself just to witness the rally. Unlike me, she’d never been to Philadelphia and still found her way!

As we waited in the chill, a quiet crowd filled around us. Despite the quiet, the crowd emanated a sense of hope, of anticipation. Next to me was a couple with a ten-year old; they’d driven from Lambertville. Behind me was a group of college students. Up in front, standing against the barrier was an old woman with two other women who could have been her adult daughters. A nearby man told me that his mother was born the year that women got the vote. He said that she was excited to vote for the first woman president. She’d wanted to come to the rally, but she’s wheelchair bound.

a-waiting-crowd

A quiet crowd waits for the rally to begin. 

Finally, after almost two hours of waiting and chatting, Jon Bon Jovi took the stage. His last song, dedicated to Hillary, was “Here Comes the Sun.” As he sang, everyone around me joined in, hundreds and hundreds of voices rose into the clear night air, united in this moment. Next, Bruce Springsteen sang three of his classics. I loved that after he sang his songs, he spoke in support of Hillary while strumming his guitar.

Chelsea spoke of being proud of her mother; Bill spoke of Hillary being so qualified. Their words were familiar, but being on that city street, surrounded by supporters, elevated the experience of hearing those words. About halfway through Michele Obama’s speech, a heckler disrupted our crowd. In a booming voice, he yelled out insults. Someone yelled an insult back. Another person called out, “When they go low, we go high.” A chorus of “Love Trumps Hate” rang out.

When Obama was introduced, the crowd erupted into joy. And when he stated that Hillary was more qualified than he was, the crowd went wild. Hillary took the stage to overwhelming cheers. The heckler continued to bark out his insults. A woman offered him a hug. People chanted “Hillary!” An older man near me declared that the heckler needed to be stopped and he turned to confront the man. We urged him to stay with us, not to engage with a man so full of anger. Someone guided the heckler away. Hillary made her famous statement about the woman card. The heckler yelled out an insult, but now he was so far away that his voice seemed inconsequential and laughter rippled through the crowd.

After I left the rally, as I walked the streets of Philadelphia, I felt proud of our country and joyful from spending time with others who had felt moved to attend the rally. This morning I voted. The volunteer held open the curtain like a gentleman holding a door. The curtain closed around me and I looked at Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot. Unexpectedly, my eyes welled with tears at seeing a woman’s name on the ballot for President of the United States of America.

I understand that some of you who are reading this post will have voted the same as me and some of you will have voted differently. The beautiful reality is that today, we each have the right to vote in the way that we choose – regardless of “race, color or previous servitude,” regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of gender. We each have one vote. How cool is that?

4 responses to “The Beautiful Reality

  1. And what a beautiful post, Laura! Such august company! I would have loved to be there. You’re braver than me. I wouldn’t have braved the crowds. But I’m glad you went.

    Like

    • Thanks, Linda! I’m glad I went too! And glad I went solo. Not everyone would have been up for standing outside for three plus hours when I could have watched the speeches at home. lol!

      Like

  2. Yay, Laura!! That sounds like a wonderful experience and I’m so happy for you that you could be there. My son and his girlfriend went to Philadelphia to help with the campaign, and they were right at the barrier along with you. Here’s what he texted me last night: “We decided to do dinner nearby instead of going in early so we watched it from outside the barriers but could see the screen and hear, although not as well as if we were in…Lindsey didn’t know what to expect but she had such a wonderful day. I was saying something we can tell our kids about in 20 years…and then after saying that to Lindsey all day, Hillary said in her speech something along the lines of ‘you can tell your families years from now you made a difference by voting and by volunteering’ which was cool.” When Derrick was a senior in high school, I went to Wisconsin to volunteer for John Kerry and he laughed at me, but 12 years later, he’s the one traveling to canvass. (I stayed home and joined a text-a-thon.) Off to vote now. Thank you for this lovely piece, Laura, and for all your great work!

    Like

    • Lyn! Your message gave me goosebumps. The lovely way that your son follows your example, the message that they took away AND the fact that they must have been very near me!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s