I seldom march. I marched in one of many Vietnam Moratorium marches held across the country. I marched for the Air Force not long after. (The two are not mutually exclusive, no matter what you've been told.) I marched for social justice when Dr. King was slain. Barack Obama is the first candidate I've marched for. I'm also agoraphobic and not keen on being in a crowd of strangers. But the turf of the march route and terminus was old, well-known, frequently explored territory while in my adolescence and not that far from home. With the help of a mild tranquilizer and a frozen caramel coffee confection from Satellite, I braved the public again. I marched.
We rallied at Obama's campaign headquarters at the corner of Central and Carlisle. It was held in a old building, once a Chevron station, that I remember as having had signs designating 'colored' and 'white' restrooms when I was but 4 or 5 years old. It's been a lot of things over the years. I remember looking at the familiar outlines of the building, seeing Obama pictures, signs in the windows saying "Early Voting Starting" and thinking how absolutely perfect it was housing Obama's campaign. Real fitting.
I picked up a little campaign swag - a Women for Obama button and some earrings with pics of Obama and the words "progress" and "hope" printed below. Any profits support the campaign. I even saw a few familiar faces in the building crowd - a couple of my kid sister's friends. It was good. The crowd swelled, people in cars passing by honked their horns and lots of 'thumbs up" popped out of rolled down windows. Sen. Ken Salazar, (D) Colorado was down to tout for Obama and help spread the good word. Salazar's constituent base is up near the northern NM border, so as a good neighbor knows about our issues as well. He said the West was key for Obama. I agree.
The march commenced. We moved westward along Central waving our placards accompanied by a fife player and drummer in our midst playing Revolutionary war ditties. It was a brisk walk and the terminus was the Student Union building on UNM's campus. The sky was a clear blazing blue with a few streaks of white clouds. The autumn air was warm and kissed with a slight breeze. More people honked and waved and I only heard two shout outs for the opposition along our route. I thought that was pretty damn sweet and awfully telling. I mean, New Mexico was pretty solid red in the last election.
We shed our campaign placards and all the rest well before the "no campaigning within 100 ft. limit of a polling place' limit. The buttons affixed to my tote were taken off as well as my Obama earrings and popped into a pocket. I followed the line into the Student Union where I'd once hung out playing hookey from mid school in order to learn about politics and public policy when I was barely 14 and that was 40 years ago friends! It's been a long time coming to this election. It's probably the most important election of my life time as I believe a better future for my countrymen & women's descendants depends on it.
There was a wait in line for some 45 minutes before getting our ballots and there was still a queue behind me that went all the way to the far north end of the hallway. Lots of folks had shown up ahead of us and after our crowd of some 2-300 people. An election official zipped up and down the hallway cheerfully admonishing us not to campaign, promote our candidates nor discuss politics, but feel free to sing Yankee Doodle if ya want or just get to meet a new friend today. I met a former lecturer of religious studies. We chit chatted some and the time passed fairly quickly. Voting line friends. And no, I didn't ask her who she was voting for. I reckon that is something as sacred as a confessional.
I voted for Barack Obama today and it was a sweet, sweet moment. I was a proud American choosing him.