Yesterday my one student, Juwan, and I went to see President Obama. And a great day it was.
When I was Juwan’s age, in 1964, I made it to downtown Dayton to hear Barry Goldwater. He spoke on the steps of the Dayton Court House, standing on the very steps where Abraham Lincoln also once had made a speech. I simply caught a bus and went downtown and joined a large crowd. It was a memorable experience and I wanted Juwan to have a similar experience.
Now in 2012 to see the president, one has to have a lot more determination and a lot more stamina. I first waited in line at the Obama HQ on Fifth Street. There was a long wait and my name was put into a computer and I was given a numbered ticket and told that I would need personal identification at the gate.
Juwan and I made it to Island Park at about 11:45 and then the waiting started — long lines snaking back and forth. As it turned out, the president would not speak for another four and one-half hours. Everyone seemed in good spirits and the fact that it was such a beautiful day helped. But the line moved slowly. Everyone had to go through security similar to that at the airport. And then we were all packed together.
Here is the New York Times report:
“Appearing with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at a raucous rally before 9,500 people in Dayton, the president went into a spirited assault, using his new favorite attack word — “Romnesia” — to highlight his rival’s position on the auto bailout, which the White House says was vital to saving jobs in Ohio and throughout the Midwest.
“Last night, Governor Romney looked me right in the eye, tried to pretend he never said, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt,’ ” Mr. Obama said, one of many instances all day when he suggested Mr. Romney was not being honest about his positions as he seeks to appeal to a general-election audience after a Republican primary campaign in which he emphasized conservative stances.”
I took my camera and shot a lot of video — too much, as it turned out. Shortly after the president began to speak, my camera indicated that the memory card was full. We were standing a ways back from the president — about in the middle of the crowd, so my video shows the event from the standpoint of an average participant. Here is a section of the president’s speech from a better perspective — made by Marc Kovac at Ohio Capital Blog — where he tells of the symptoms of “Romnesia.”
At the end of the speech, the president and vice-president moved into the crowd to shake hands. Most people where we were standing started to leave, but Juwan wanted to press forward. We got within ten yards of the president, and I wish I had had a workable camera. I told Juwan that I was pretty sure that he had waved directly to us.
As we were leaving, I spoke to a man walking next to us. He said that he had finagled to get a “red” ticket — evidently that ticket put him closer to the podium — and, in fact, he said the president had grabbed his hand.
I said, “Then, let me shake your hand.”
And I did, and so did Juwan. Wow. What a day. Exhausting but memorable. And, we shook the hand of the hand that shook the president’s hand.