Third Day of the Democratic National Convention 2004
This time I was in no mood to miss breakfast. I did get a late start from out in Chestnut Hill, around the Boston College area, which is an hour from the breakfast venue. However, when I got to the Maryland Delegation breakfast at the hotel, the morning breakfast program was still ongoing and an astute gentleman, a server, brought me a nice hot plate of scrambled eggs, frenchtoast, one thick juicy sausage and syrup. Breakfast was sponsored by Baltimore County. Thankfully, I had missed all the speeches, but apparently Howard Dean had made a surprise visit and I missed that too. Also Kweisi Mfume was the keynoter and I missed that. I wouldn't have minded listening to him.
I later picked up my daily credentials and "repaired" to the hotel lobby to read the free NY times, Washington Post convention special, and Boston Globe along with my USA Today I brought with me. I am a news glutton and I need to go confession for that. An hour later I decided to head back to the apartment I was staying at. At this point I was totally beat and I knew it wouldn't take much to fall asleep. And so I rode the "T" for an hour back to the apartment. Just as I positioned myself on the couch to sleep, one of the resident cats felt that I was cudley enough and jumped in my face to snuggle. Surprised, I sat up just to let the cat know that it had interrupted my positioning and that it was in my way. The cat did not care, instead it inched closer in order to get snuggly. I had no choice then but to sit up and read more newspapers. The cat had no intenion of moving and I did not feel like throwing it off the couch. So no nap for me.
I found out one day late that there was a faith forum at the DNC which I missed. I am frustrated because I'm not sure how we were supposed to know. It was well attended so I suppose the info was out there somewhere, but I had no idea. I think it was a great idea and that I could have been there. I read a bit about it in the Boston Globe, but that's not like being there and getting the buzz. Well, so be it.
On the way into the Fleet center, on the train, I dozed off repeatedly. It was going to be a long long evening. After getting through security, which was not bad at all, I trudged all the way to the 7th floor nose bleed seats. I settled in and struggle to stay awake. There was enough happening, but at this point, I had been averaging about 4hours of sleep and been doing a whole bunch of walking.
I don't remember all the speakers. I did not even try to clap or cheer or anything, I simply nodded my head in agreement. Then the Rev. Al Sharpton came up to the podium.
At first I thought, this should be fun. Sharpton was going to be a clear improvement over the previous three hundred and twenty-eight preceeding speakers that evening. Well, Sharpton started out and he got quite fiesty. I was like wow! and then he began to speak to me. Normally I can't stand Sharpton at all. I find him to be a grandstanding wordsmith who is all rhetoric, but he was speaking to me right there and then. Even though I was as tired as heck, I came to life, clapping, screaming, etc. And then he ended with this: (the part that touched me in bold)
As you know, I live in New York. I was there September 11th when that despicable act of terrorism happened.
A few days after, I left home, my family had taken in a young man who lost his family. And as they gave comfort to him, I had to do a radio show that morning. When I got there, my friend James Entome (ph) said, Reverend, we're going to stop at a certain hour and play a song, synchronized with 990 other stations.
I said, That's fine.
He said, We're dedicating it to the victims of 9/11.
I said, What song are you playing?
He said America the Beautiful. The particular station I was at, the played that rendition song by Ray Charles.
As you know, we lost Ray a few weeks ago, but I sat there that morning and listened to Ray sing through those speakers, Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains' majesty across the fruited plain.
And it occurred to me as I heard Ray singing, that Ray wasn't singing about what he knew, because Ray had been blind since he was a child. He hadn't seen many purple mountains. He hadn't seen many fruited plains. He was singing about what he believed to be.
Mr. President, we love America, not because all of us have seen the beauty all the time.
But we believed if we kept on working, if we kept on marching, if we kept on voting, if we kept on believing, we would make America beautiful for everybody.
Starting in November, let's make America beautiful again.
Thank you. And God bless you.
via About.com http://usliberals.about.com/od/campaign2004/a/sharptonspeech.htm
That was it for me, it took all I had to stop the tears. Something about that really brought it home for me. In reading the newspapers on Thursday, everyone simply commented that Sharpton electrified the house and gave a rousing speech, but he did much more than that, he touched many people. I say this because i was at Boston College the next day, talking with a few people and they watched the convention coverage and were talking about Sharpton's speech. I think sharpton did a great job.
The next big speech was by John Edwards, who was introduced by his wife Elizabeth, who in turn was introduced by Cate, their daughter. Neither one of the introductions was particularly rousing, but they warm and touching and you could feel the love in the room. We all love Elizabeth and were waving our Elizabeth signs.
BTW, the signs thing is quite interesting. I just found in funny how the signs were distributed in anticipation of the next speaker. The floor delegates all got signs because they were in direct view of the cameras, we nose bleed types got the scraps and it was a free for all as people lunged eight rows down just to get a sign. Thankfully,there were enough signs for Wednesday nite to prevent a full scale war up in the bleachers.
John Edwards electrified the crowd more by his presence than speech. The speech was very good, but not great by John Edwards' standards. You could feel the hoarseness and fatigue in his voice, but he came through. I thought the whole bit about the coming negativity from Bush and the "aren't you just so sick of it" bit was very effective--it shines a light on the coming negativity by the Bush /Cheney team and will make it so that it backfires on them. I was glad that he stuck with his two Americas theme. It is clear that Kerry wants to bring Edwards onboard as himself.