(Image Credit: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/06/04/midday2/
I remember in Philadelphia, as a volunteer for the Obama campaign, arriving at the volunteer office just blocks from the Community College of Philadelphia on Spring Garden Street where I had once worked. I returned to Philadelphia after hard break up with the city. There were things about it I couldn't master and things I refused to face. It was something like the way people refer to New York City when they say, "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."
I returned to the city with mixed feelings. Obama brought me back. But it was also time for me to reconcile my differences. My assignment from the volunteer office was to knock on doors and ask people if we could count on their support. I started out with a friend, and as we walked through the streets with our Obama gear, I began feeling better about the city.
Of course there were dissenters, Republicans, and the like who did not support Obama. But overall, there were a lot of people who believed in the promise, that thing we call "change" moving along quietly, with that feeling that reporters called in their news stories "momentum." Reflecting upon that time in the face of an inauguration, I see how time and place can profoundly affect a person's attitude.
The Friday before I went doorknocking for Obama, I had attended one of his rallies in the downtown area. It's in an historic district, just on the other side of Chinatown and minutes from the waterfront on Columbus. What's most amazing was the commonality I felt between myself and the thousands of other supporters who had gathered that day. That was a feeling that had been missing when I used to reside there. Today, I stood at 6th and Market, paces from the Liberty Bell, and squinted out over the crowds. I was part of a huddled mass of supporters, mile upon mile strong, shoulder to shoulder, north to south, friend and stranger gathered to support a campaign that transformed me, my attitudes, and this country.
I share this episode because in spite of the barriers you'll face on your way to D.C., whether personal or logistical, know that your journey will be worth it. It is a monumentous thing to stand and be a part of history. That is what it will feel like as you walk through the crowds. It won't matter how close you get or how far down the Mall you are, just being there, being among other supporters will make your journey to D.C. a remarkable one.