arcadiabritt

Barack Obama Comes to Abington

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2008 at 1:50 am

It began on the night of the Vice Presidential debates. I was watching them with some real enthusiasts for Barack Obama, most of them Arcadia students. As Arcadia is a very liberal college, it should come as no surprise that many students enjoy getting together to watch the weekly debates. It might have something to do with the constant entertainment provided, especially when the lovely Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, makes a spectacle of herself, as she always seems to do, no matter if you’re on Barack Obama or John McCain’s side. I agree that the American people like to be able to relate to their government officials; however, I don’t think we want someone who describes the average American male to be “Joe Six-Pack”, as the candidate for Vice President.

Mary Cracolice, our hostess, began discussing Obama’s big visit to our own Abington High School the following day. I was really looking forward to going, but faced with the choice of missing classes, and being that I’m a very studious young woman, I decided I couldn’t go. As my night wore on I began to see Facebook statuses informing me of how many of my Arcadia friends would be going to this once in a lifetime opportunity. As someone who never misses a golden opportunity when it’s presented, I grabbed at my second chance to go. So there I was at two in the morning, running around charging my camera and deciding what to wear. I thought to myself, “You never know you might get to meet him”. I frantically called my mom, telling her the exciting news, and she brought to light the fact that if it was two-thirty am, perhaps I should try and rest; I agreed since we were leaving at six-thirty am.

My Manor girls and I were up before the sun rose and were on our way to Abington High School. Of course we stopped for some coffee and stereotypically found Dunkin Donuts full of police officers dressed in their very best, undoubtedly in case Obama stopped in to join them for a donut.  As we parked and began walking down the hill we found that we made it at a pretty decent time of 7am. Yes, it was an ungodly hour to any young student but there were some Arcadia students, such as Libby Kimport and company that arrived around 4am, and had made a little camp-out adventure of it.

Very excited, we took our place in-line about one hundred yards from the gate. Now all we had to do was wait two more hours before we could enter the gates at 9am. As time went by, we watched security setting up metal detectors and saw the masses of people grow into the hundreds that attended. We may have been sleep deprived, but we were certainly glad to have arrived early enough to make it through the gates shortly after 9am. As we were all herded through security, it felt like the hours of waiting would all be worth it. As our group made its way to the right side of the stage I began to shoot all the different camera angels of the podium so that when Obama was center stage I would be ready. Of course, that wouldn’t be for another two hours since he wouldn’t speak until 11am.

Meanwhile, I would have to work to keep my prime spot from all the late arrivals trying to shove their children, armed with their cameras, in front of me and my friends. That’s one thing I learned: don’t mess with amped up college students at an Obama rally. As we all watched the ever-growing line of people on the outside, we counted ourselves as the lucky ones. One minute it seemed that the huge field was wide open and the next there were crowds of people who had been packed in behind us. You could begin to feel the intensity of the eager crowd. I was beyond content. I thought this man could be the next President of my country, and I was going to be right there in the front row to hear his promises of a better future for my country.

As the final hour came about, we couldn’t believe it had been four long hours since our adventure started. We were tired and ready to see Obama! When vans and buses started pulling up, the crowd began to go insane. We heard speeches from several Obama campaign members and Abington’s representatives. A ten year old girl even led the whole audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

It was a heart pounding moment when security finally led a smiling Obama up to the podium on my side of the stage. The people began cheering for Obama; it was like an adrenaline rush. I went crazy taking his picture and joining in the Obama chant. As he started to speak, the crowd slowly quieted their excitement. Every time Obama mentioned making college more affordable the groups of Arcadia students, placed throughout the waves of people, could be heard above all others. I found myself hanging on his every word and felt like he was speaking directly to me. Being an Arcadia student, I especially felt the pains of tuition prices.

After his speech, Obama made his way around the barricade, shaking hands with people in the front of the blockade. Suddenly the hundreds of people behind us where pushing us forward and we were lucky to have an arm hanging over ready to catch his hand. A friend of mine, Kelly Parmiter, President of Pride at Arcadia, was enthralled to have fought her way through the people and was front and center when Obama came around to shake our hands.  She recounts her personal moment with Obama, “When he finally got around to us, and he shook my hand, I held on a little longer than I should have so he would look at me. He did, and I pointed to him and said, ‘You need to focus on LGBT issues!’ He looked directly into my eyes and said, ‘You got it’. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem that big, but to me, it was huge.”

I vaguely recall my handshake with Obama; it seemed to last forever, yet I know it happened more quickly than I thought. Right after his hand gently slipped out of mine and he was onto the next person, I just stood, stunned, and stared at my friend and we both just screamed and jumped up and down with tremendous excitement. It was most definitely with a feeling of having just experienced a once in a lifetime event that can hardly be described. I personally will never forget the ridiculous softness of Obama’s hands, and how I felt as he had been speaking genuinely to his people.

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