The air was filled with excitement and anticipation, which is not unusual for gatherings of this kind. Political rallies are, by nature, filled with energy and enthusiasm. But this was different. There was something else. There was also hope, pure unadulterated hope.
The crowd of thousands that had gathered was comprised of people so different from one other that no other event will probably ever bring us all to the same place again. But the common desire for something more, something better, for ourselves and our country had brought us all to this field, even if just for a few hours.
Everyone waited together, a sea of strangers standing shoulder to shoulder. People who might normally avoid eye contact on the street smiled and waved to each other, all of us knowing we had something in common. We were people who before today might have thought we had nothing to share, and instead saw ourselves reflected in the most unlikely of ways.
To say that the crowd waited in anticipation would be a vast understatement. The crowd waited with a level of passion and conviction that can not be described. Every person there knew that our presence was important. Every person there knew that we mattered. Every person there knew we could make a difference; that we had to make a difference. Every person there knew that was a defining moment for us all. Every person there had a pride in our country and ourselves that only hope had given us.
The message from the podium was one of unity and change. It was eloquently delivered and resonated with the thousands who had come to hear it. Obama spoke to every one there both as a citizen and a nation. And, despite our obvious differences, we all understood the need to find and celebrate the common ground.
And in those few hours in a field in Virginia, we all knew what was really important. And we all knew that basically we agreed. As I stood surrounded by the thousands of people that had gathered, I allowed myself to believe in the possibility of unity and change. And by the end of the speech, I realized that though Obama may have facilitated it, it was the audience that convinced me it might actually happen.
The crowd was dispersing. The sun was setting, still not a cloud in the sky. It was perfectly clear. I went there to hear a speech. I wasn’t expecting to get so much more. I saw people tired of division and fear tactics. I saw people wanting a country united, strong, and healthy. I saw people who wanted to believe that anything was possible. In the thousands of faces longing for more, I saw myself.
Thank you, Senator Obama for your call for peace, fairness, and unity. Thank you for your desire to calmly lead at a time of crisis. Thank you for your call for indisputably necessary change. But most of all, thank you for placing hope back in our hands and a common purpose in our hearts. When there is hope, all things are possible. We can do it, yes we can.