Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama in Grand Junction

John Lichty at the Barack Obama rally in Grand Junction on September 15, 2008Barack Obama spoke in our town today. My friend Phillip Linville and I witnessed the historic event from just fifty feet away thanks to Phil's willingness to wait in line for three hours on Saturday to get us tickets. Still, after waiting another three hours this morning, nowhere near the front of the line, we were both amazed to be so close. It more than made up for not getting tickets to Obama's acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium during the Democratic National Convention a few weeks ago.

The warm-up speakers were obviously excited to be sharing the stage with Obama and speaking before a crowd estimated at about 6,000 people. Notables included Governor Bill Ritter and Senator Ken Salazar, but the introduction duties fell to local citizen Bill Haggerty, who mangled Obama's name but scored points with the audience when he presented him with a locally grown peach.

Change We Need Event for Barack Obama in Grand Junction on September 15, 2008Obama's speech focused primarily on the economy, which was especially pertinent today given the failure of Lehman Brothers, the acquisition of Merrill Lynch and the record decline in the stock market. He also spoke about issues important to Western Colorado, particularly water rights and energy development. Overall, his message was one of hope for a better future for all Americans.

The importance of this election in deciding the future course of history, either change for the better or more of the same, was evident on the faces all around us. People were still waving their "Change We Need" signs as they walked back to the parking lot.

Seeing Barack Obama speak in person was a tremendously uplifting experience, one that could not be dampened by the protestors lining the entrance, not by the boy in the Denver Broncos jersey with the "Your [sic] in McCain country" sign and not by the young woman holding the racist "Got White Guilt?" banner. Has there ever been a greater divide in the way people think in this country?

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