I was one in a hundred thousand today. 100,000 Saint Louisians and I met on the Arch grounds at noon today, to hear Barack Obama speak. The weather was bright and cool. I was warm in the sunshine, but cool in the shade.
I biked down to the Arch and arrived just as the gates to the Arch grounds were opening at 10:15 AM. Unfortunately, for me thousands of other Saint Louisians had lined up before the gates had opened. I locked my bike in front of the old courthouse (pictured above) and went in search of the end of the line. On the way, I posed with Rednecks for Obama.
I walked half a mile looking for the end of the line. Eventually myself and the other end of line seekers just merged into the existing line. Where as I had walked a straight line to get into line, the line itself made a snaking return trip to its head. On the Way I met Joe the Teacher, pictured above. The big holdup was security. They had the airport’s TSA with metal detectors scanning everyone upon entry. With about 50 yards to go they shut down the security checkpoint and opened the flood gates and let everyone else in.
Except it was only to the cheap seats. If I had been there earlier or taken cuts earlier I could have got into the closer section that had been scanned and to the bathrooms. For some reason they had positioned all of the potties in this inner cordon. Maybe the secret service was afraid that terrorist would tip over an unprotected outhouse? I eventually backtracked to where I had parked my bike and used the Adam’s Mark hotel’s facilities.
Feeling much relieved, I reentered the Arch grounds in plenty of time to hear more then a few Saint Louis politicians introduce Obama. Eventually, Obama showed up and gave his standard stump speech, which if you are an avid listener to NPR like me, you have heard in snippets. I should note that he made his speech in full view of the Missouri courthouse that handed down the Dred Scott decision, 151 years ago.
Although, the speech was peppered with local references and references to local politicians it was not the tiny, distant speaker that made the speech magical, it was the crowd. I have never seen a more courteous and polite 100,000 people. They were boisterous and loud mind you, but also respectful of each other.
After Obama’s speech I joined the outward flowing crush of people and made it back to my bike. I unlocked it and mounted up. I was quickly able to exit the downtown and it wasn’t until I was past Grand Center that auto traffic had caught up with me.
On Monday Bill Clinton is coming to town. He will speak at Kirkwood High School.
I got 20 miles in today.
OBTW, four years ago Anne and I went to hear John Kerry speak at his last rally in Saint Louis. It was a Saturday at the Worlds Fair Pavilion in Forest Park. I’m guessing he drew a crowd of a thousand, maybe two. Six months later Lance Armstrong did almost as well speaking about cancer. Lance spoke on a week day afternoon.
Update: On NPR tonight I learned that today’s rally was Obama’s largest rally, to date. In the USA that is. He got 200,000 in Berlin this year, but they can’t vote next month. Surpassing Portland’s 75,000 people rally earlier this year and the Democratic convention’s 80,000 people.
Another Update: Check out the Daily Kos for the media’s pictures. Oh, to have their media access …
looks like that would have been very exciting!
and this morning, Colin Powell endorsed Barack. very cool. his talk on Meet the Press was very eloquent and thoughtful. check it out.
Yes, very cool!
I’m reminded of Victor Laszlo’s line to Rick at the airport in the movie Casablanca:
Thanks. I appreciate it. Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.