Editor’s note: Spreeha Debchaudhury returned from Denver over the weekend to start classes at La Jolla High School. Her wrap-up on her convention experience will appear in the Sept. 11 edition of The Light and online.Really. It was ridiculously hot.
But then again, my perception of the heat might have been exacerbated by the fact that we had to walk two and a half miles UPHILL to the Invesco Field Stadium. Not to mention I was really sick that morning.
Let me back up a bit. I had actually woken up with a sore throat that morning, (and I was brilliant enough to have a cold coffee drink to wake myself up), and we piled on the buses for what we thought would be Invesco Field. We had been told that there was some sort of mix-up, and we’d have to volunteer to get seats at the stadium, but then at the last minute we were told, to our elation, that the program director, Jeff Dunn, had gotten us tickets and we would not be required to volunteer to participate.
However, we were given the option to do so if we so desired, and this is where everything went to heck. Three different groups were formed - one to go to Invesco Field right away to volunteer, one to go to Invesco Field right away to stand in line to get through the security and into the stadium, and one to instead go to the DNC Youth Council Meeting at the Denver Convention Center (NOT the Pepsi Center, mind you) where Michelle Obama was supposed to speak at the end. Coordinating these three groups was a disaster, pure and simple. We stood on one street corner for nearly an hour, trying to figure out what the staff were doing as they conversed in serious, hushed tones with one another, and then walked a block and spent another hour on the next street corner as they attempted to get us into the three groups. Might I mention that we were standing in the middle of the blazing heat in an area with practically no shade?
We were given some free time, and I got to have a delightful chat with another girl in the program, Allison Bocchino (I hope I spelled your last name right, Allison!) from New Jersey who was an ardent Hillary supporter like me and shared nearly all of my political beliefs. It really enjoyable talking to her, and she had a brilliant sense of humor. We spent a good chunk of time thinking up ways to punish John Edwards whom we were both really angry at for his infidelity with his wife (much more so than with Clinton - in fact, we agreed that was blown out of proportion by the media), but even that was all in good fun. After all, we can’t realistically send a politician to Mars without a space suit, can we?
After that, we arrived at the Youth Council meeting, unfashionably early, and it turned out that we were essentially the only ones who came. The only speakers we got to hear (as we learned that Michelle Obama was in fact not speaking there) were Howard Dean and some other obscure politician who’s name I’ve forgotten. But even Dean himself was a treat. I’ve admired the man for a long time and appreciated his stance on the war in Iraq back during the 2004 election.
But what really made that morning special was that he didn’t talk about Obama, or McCain, or the war, or the gas prices or the economy. He didn’t talk about why we should vote for the Democratic ticket or change or any of that political jargon. He told us straight up, with nearly unbridled enthusiasm, that “we,” not Obama, not McCain, “we” were going to make the change in America. He told us that youth has begun to be active in politics again like never before, and that we would make a huge impact on the America of tomorrow. Dean told us that we, the next generation, had the power in our hands to change the world.
After that was done, the note was passed around the JSA students that after the current speaker finished, we were to gather our things and head for the lobby. In comparison to before and after, that part of our day was extremely poorly-organized. We collected our credentials from our pod leaders, and then started the long walk to Invesco Field. It was a two and a half mile UPHILL walk to Invesco Field - why couldn’t we take the buses?! That walk was so draining, I thought I would collapse right there on the sidewalk when there seemed to be no end in sight. I had run out of water too, and so didn’t have anything to drink until I got all the way there (the tubs filled with ice and bottles of water were a glorious sight at that point, as one can imagine), and I almost got separated from the group twice because no one seemed to notice that some people couldn’t keep up the pace in that heat.
Still, the walk was worth it, as was suffering through sitting on the sun-warmed plastic seats for hours waiting for the speech (even though I had to go to the bathroom periodically to wet a paper towel so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the sun’s beating rays.) All the speeches leading up to Obama’s were awesome. Bill Richardson was one of my favorite speeches of the day, as was Al Gore’s. Particularly encouraging for me were the Republicans who said that they had had enough of the Bush administration and wanted Obama to win for some well-needed change.
I don’t have to tell you how inspirational and genuine and heartfelt, and powerful his speech was; I don’t have to tell you that for one of the very first times, he laid out his plans for America’s future clearly and simply, and how he was going to live up to that tenuous motto of “change.” I don’t have to tell you that Obama’s speech was very likely the highlight of the entire convention and the election campaign thus far - you all probably watched it on television.
But what I can tell you, having witnessed it and been a part of it rather than watched it on TV, was that it was so much more “personal” there. There was so much joy and exuberance and real inspiration among the fans. When Obama came onto the stage, the whole stadium literally started to vibrate underneath my feet as people stomped their feet in addition to clapping. The joy of the night was exemplified by this one African-American man in the seat in front of me. He was wearing this white suit and a white top hat, and when Obama got onto the podium, you should have seen the man jump up and down, start dancing in place, and wave his flag (U.S. flags were being given out for free as souvenirs) so crazily that you’d think the small staples that held it together would give, with repeated cheers of “Woooo! Wooooo! Wooo-woooo-wooooo!” I think there was a little of him in all of us that night.
As I’ve said before, I am an ardent Hillary supporter. For a while, I wasn’t even sure if I liked Obama as a man, even though I agreed with (most) of his policies. But the excitement of the night, the joy of everyone around me as Obama accepted the nomination - I got caught up in that euphoria. I found myself cheering and stomping and waving my flag and my change sign that I got as another souvenir. I cheered almost as loudly as that other man, and while I didn’t dance, I got so excited, and I was happy. I felt more respect for Obama than I had over the whole campaign, because he brought us all (white, black, Asian,
West Coast, East Coast, Midwest) together in that one stadium, and told us in very clear, precise, terms, that he would help us make our American dream come true.
At the end of that night, one of my pod leaders, Elliot Nguyen, told us that he had sometimes been a bit iffy about the concept of patriotism - was being American simply waving a flag and cheering for our leaders? - but that that night was different. He told us that that night, cheering with all the others at Invesco Field as he listened to Obama’s speech, he had never felt more American in his whole life than in that stadium.
I couldn’t agree with him more.
LJHS Senior to report from Democratic Convention
The abortion bus
To the ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits’
Reflections on a monumental event