19 January 2009
Rockin' For America
It was easily the biggest concert of the year. Garth Brooks, Ellen, John Mellencamp, Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira, Usher, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Beyonce, Jack Black, Laura Linney, Tom Hanks, Josh Groban, Joe Biden and yes, even Barack Obama. Two hours. One million people. The Lincoln Memorial. Hot Dogs. It was an All-American afternoon and I was right near the front, just off to the left. Magical.
Yes it was cold and yes we were standing for about 6 hours, but it was worth every minute. I walked from where I was staying (nearly 2 miles) and found roughly 1 million people staking out a spot or waiting to get through security in anticipation of staking out a spot. Contrary to what most were anticipating, it wasn't overwhelming, it wasn't stressful and it wasn't scary. People were jubilant. Excited. Relieved. The security guards (it did feel like we were in Baghdad's Green Zone) were friendly. Crowds were [fairly] orderly and everyone was just taking in the amazing moment.
My fear has always been and still remains that people believe at some level that they have elected, as the good Reverend said yesterday, "not a man, but a Messiah." With that framework we as a people are setting him up for failure. Obama took that to task in his remarks, noting that change takes time and must involve each and every one of us. Whether people were hearing him is another question, but I do hope so. For now, I think most are embracing the overwhelming sense of euphoria that has filled the usually quiet city. Come Wednesday though, it's go time. The struggle wasn't won on election day, and the office - the institution of Democracy - is bigger than any one man. Let's just remember that.
Here are some of my shots from the concert. Tomorrow is the big day! GOBAMERICA.