Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A fun experience

Air Force One Last night, I got an email from the Obama Intrawebs Machine inviting me out to show my support today for his visit to nearby Wakarusa, Indiana.

I pondered it a little bit, because who knew how organized it would be, or if it would be worthwhile, and the speech itself wasn't open to the public...but Ken said, "Go. You never know what you'll see, and you'll be sorry if you don't." Right he was, so I set my alarm this morning, and was rarin' to go at 8 AM. Well, rarin' to go might be an exaggeration, but I was up! I had a message from my friend Milwaukee Dan #1 saying that he was going, too, and then when I updated my Facebook status, turned out that our friend Barb was also going! She's a photographer for our local paper, and the three of us went to Ball State together.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and around 80°. I got there at 9:30, and there were already lots of people there. I got a sign that said Health Care for America NOW! on one side and Health Care Can’t Wait! on the other side, and a sticker, and found a spot at the side of the road. I talked to a couple of nice women close by, who had volunteered for the campaign, and everyone was enjoying the day and hoping to get a glimpse of the motorcade. I'll end the suspense right now and tell you that it didn't come by us. Bummer! But we got to see Air Force One fly overhead, and that was cool! There were plenty of police, naturally, and choppers circling. There were several workers walking around and firing people up. One woman with a loudspeaker appeared to have boundless energy, and she had a pretty cool groove going on!

I saw Barb first, and it was so great to see her! It's been too long. She said she'd seen Guido (Dan's college nickname...are you still with me?) on the way up, so I was watching for him. I finally spotted him, and it was just as great to see him! Barb came by a little later and got one of her friends to take a picture of the three of us, so I hope to put that up here when she sends it to me or I can snag it off of Facebook. It was a freakin' Ball State reunion, I tell you!

Dan and Beth at Obama's visit Barb had pictures to take for the paper, but Dan and I hung out most of the time. He walked around more than I did and got lots of pictures. He ventured over to where the protesters were and said there were some really interesting signs. One that he saw said Let ME Treat My Patients. We saw one that said Obama Lied, Grandma Died. [rolling eyes] One woman had a sign up to sign a petition for state sovereignty. I was happy to see that sovereignty was spelled correctly. We agreed that although they weren't trying to be funny, their signs were definitely more humorous than our health care and energy signs!

Oh, and we each got super cool T-shirts that say Make Our Energy Clean, Make It American. Score!

The 'other side' sent a group of youngsters carrying anti-abortion signs over to stand behind us. Most of these kids did not look old enough to vote. Those of us talking felt that it was a little cowardly to send the kids over, obviously trying to incite us into some sort of clash. Of course, these were just kids, and had the right to protest, and I didn't hear anyone go after them. There were a few folks talking quietly and earnestly to them, and everything remained calm. At least at that time.

After it was determined that the President was in the building, we walked over to the Other Side. They had police line tape up, but people were crossing over to hear the speech broadcast from a sound system someone had set up. Dan asked, "Are you up for it?" I said, "Yeah, let's go," and we ducked under the tape. (Dan and Barb and I never got into any trouble in college. Really.) We were listening to the speech, although we couldn't hear all of it--I'll have to find it on YouTube tomorrow to hear the whole thing. Over to our right, we saw a guy with a video camera on a tripod, and with a microphone, setting up to interview one of the Obama supporters. One of the protesters came over and stood in front of the camera, then more came over and started harassing the reporter. He said, "I'm interviewing both sides, and I'll interview you if you want me to, but let me interview this lady!" The protesters started saying, "You're on private property. You can't do this here." Dan went over and said, "Hey, let him do his job!" (He's also a journalist.) The reporter was like, "Okay, I'll go back, but I don't know why you won't let me interview someone here." The people who were organizing the supporters were hovering around by this time and said, it's okay, let's move back, and as we walked back to Our Side, I said, "They're kicking us out! We were just listening to the speech!" and Dan yelled, "Freedom of speech!" It was a little exciting there for a while, but of course, nothing happened.

I have to say, though, that over on the supporters side, everyone was very positive and upbeat. The anti-abortion kid protesters that were sent over were not harassed, and no one was getting nasty. I wonder why the protesters were so negative and nasty? Most of us were just standing there listening to the speech, and the reporter was just trying to interview someone. I don't understand why they had to get so exclusive all of a sudden. They had people coming over to where we were...why couldn't they let us stand there and listen to the speech? Some of them were really negative and belligerent. If it was private property, they had the right to tell us to go away, and we did. It was all pretty interesting, though.

After the speech was over, Dan and I hung around a little longer (I saw Barb again, too, and gave her a big hug), and watched some of the Invited Ones driving off. Some local politicians, mostly, but apparently Indiana Senator Evan Bayh was there. Our biggest laugh of the day came when we saw the South Bend Police Department Bomb Squad truck drive by...and the driver threw his cigarette out the window. The irony just cracked us up! BOOM! We made our way back to our cars, said it was great to see each other and that we hope to have a chance to all get together, and headed home. I got to watch the local TV coverage of Air Force One taking off, so that was cool.

I think I'm sunburned, and I was sore from standing for 3+ hours, but I'm really glad I went. It was a disappointment not to see the motorcade, but it was still a great chance to experience the excitement of a Presidential visit and the sense of community that most of us shared. Great to see some old friends (I can say old, because we're the same age!) to boot, and I had a lot of fun. A very good day!


  1. Sounds like a neat experience. I'm glad you went and blogged about it!!


  2. Glad you decided to go, and thanks for not getting arrested :o)

  3. Nice going! Glad it was worthwhile!

  4. Sounds like, for the most part, it was a good experience, and who could ask for more? I see some of the rallies on the news and the web, and it seems the opposition is rather skillfully creating one disturbance after another. I suppose it is tough to accept after 8 years that their opinion wasn't shared by the majority.

  5. looks like it was a gorgeous day.....loved the video....i always enjoy your telling of stories....glad you went and got to see friends.

  6. Hi Beth,
    Sounds like a nice day ... and how refreshing to see a pro health care reform sign out there.

  7. Sounds like it was a very interesting experience.

    Unfortunately, it seems like the GOP has decided to use disruption as a major tactic all over the place now. I saw on the news a day or so ago about how members of Congress are having to deal with people showing up to their town halls with the express purpose of shouting them down. Nothing like the class that group shows when they don't get their way! Wish they'd just hold their breath instead.

  8. Bummer he didn't drive by... but glad you had a mini reunion and a nice day!

    be well...

  9. Good for you for going and supporting Obama and his plans for change. He's accomplished more in the past 7 months than W did in 8 years. Finally, someone with a brain and conscience in the White House again. Hallelujah!

  10. i'm so glad to hear that no national incidents were incited by those ball state hooligans! those scofflaws! sounds like it was a fun time and a great experience. i like dan's question -- "are you up for it?" -- and your response "yeah, let's go!" that's the way to live!


  11. It was a perfect day for a protest. Great to see you Beth!
    I wish The Prez would do this more often!!!!

  12. I am so glad that you had fun and supported the Health Care..I have a truly hard time dealing with all the negativity. I don't care what he tries to do for the people their will be many who will try to beat him down if for no other reason than he is black. What is wrong with people??? All I say is the harder people fight him the more determined he will be and that is my President. Right on


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