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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Thirsty for Obama Rally

By LAUREN ORSINI

My clothes are soaked through. I’m caked with mud up to my ankles. I’m standing so close to total strangers that when they shift position, I feel it.

“I’m going to puke,” the girl next to me says. She’s not alone; we’re all dehydrated and thirsty. Surprisingly, I am describing a situation I put myself in willingly, in the long line waiting to see Obama. Here’s my record of what it was like to be in the crowd:

At noon, I began waiting in line beside my friends. The line snakes all the way to Trinkle.

In just half an hour, the line doubled in length. The line goes all the way to the Belltower. People have set up mini living rooms in line, sitting on blankets and towels and lawn chairs, studying, knitting, and playing video games.

Around 2:30 p.m., volunteers are getting us into tighter lines to go through the metal detectors. All our backpacks and towels have to go, and no water bottles. I toss the two I brought for the wait.

At 3:44 p.m., a guy beside me just got there. His brother had saved a spot for him, he said. Rubbing my sore legs, I wish I had gotten the same idea as he had.

Volunteers occasionally toss water into the crowd around 4:30 p.m. Some people pass out, and the campus police ride up on bicycle to pick them up.

Right at 5:15 p.m., when Obama and Biden should speak any minute, we suddenly hear thunder. A murmur goes through the crowd. It seems like the program is going to be delayed.

After about an hour, the storm is over and the program begins. We’re all soaking wet and muddy as we begin with a prayer and the pledge.

By quarter to 7 p.m., the tech crew is still setting up Obama’s podium. People in the crowd are getting more belligerent, and our chants for Obama grow louder and stronger. Some people jokingly declare that they are voting for McCain. Our legs hurt. We are soaked. We want Obama.

Obama and Biden finally appear to applause louder than the earlier thunder. It is 7:04 p.m. Suddenly the whole wait, the seven hours, is worth it.

It’s 7:22 p.m., and Obama is now speaking. He jokes about the rain, which drizzles, comparing it to our stormy economic situation. Everyone laughs. We hold up our hands and applaud.

A few minutes into the speech, it begins to rain hard. Obama takes off his jacket and soon becomes soaked through his shirt, just like the rest of us.

The speech is over too soon at 8 p.m., and now it’s a mad rush to get out of the same place we wanted to get into so badly.

As I jump, muddy and freezing, into the shower, it’s not the countless hours of waiting that stick with me, but the thirty minutes that Obama spoke that I won’t soon forget.