I was lucky enough to be in downtown Chicago Tuesday. I had a meeting that kept me there until about 5:00 p.m. The City of Chicago asked businesses to close early to allow everyone to go home before the Obama supporters filled the streets. When I left my meeting, the streets were strangely quiet. There weren't many people filling the sideways. The tow trucks were clearing the streets -- and they were not messing around. One man decided to argue with the tow truck driver, who promptly towed the car with the man in it. The police were in full force making their presence known.
As I made it to the train station, the streets became more crowded. Hundreds of people walking from the train station smiled, chattered and moved quickly to the celebration. Even though they knew (then) Senator Obama wouldn't arrive until at least 10:00 p.m., they wanted to get to the celebration quickly to secure a good place to view history. It was electric to be among them all.
When I watched it on TV later, I was so jealous. I knew several people in the crowd, so I scanned the crowd looking for a friendly face. I admit tears streamed down my face when I watched President-elect Obama speak. The tears on the faces in the crowd brought home the real meaning of the moment. I was thrilled that my candidate won, but these people were crying for other reasons -- more personal reasons.
The last time politics made me cry was when U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi was named Speaker of the House. It was such a milestone moment. A woman was second in line for the U.S. Presidency. Tuesday I sat and watched a man of mixed heritage thank the American people for making him the next U.S. President. It was so amazing.
People asked me why it affected me so. There are so many personal answers to that question. In the end, it came down to our daughters' futures. Not in terms of what President-elect Obama would do to improve their futures. Mostly for me, it was about the possibilities. We always say that anything is possible in America. Each time another barrier falls, I believe it more and more.