It's Saturday nite, and I have finally returned back to PA. From Sunday morning at 2am until I arrived home last evening at 9pm, I clocked exactly 8 hours of sleep. Wouldn't trade the lifetime experience for ALL of the sleep in the world. Following my last full blog early Wednesday morning, by the time I returned to my hotel room about 2 am Thursday morning, my eyes and fingers to type were just not there.
So in order to make sure that I could convey the rest of the story accurately, I felt it was better to wait until I got back home, and recouped some sleep time to complete writing about the daily experiences encountered. Hundreds of candid photographs, as well as short video clips that I was able to capture, will be uploaded shortly for your enjoyment and perusal.
Day 4, Wednesday, was quite an eventful day. Besides the early morning delegation Breakfast, I continued to access the Convention Center. The main event at the Arena, in the evening, was Bill Clinton. At the breakfast meeting I was asked to due an on camera interview with WFMZ TV - Channel 69 in Allentown. Here is the link for the online presentation of the interview that is available: http://www.wfmz.com/news/news-politics/President-Clinton-speaks-at-DNC/-/132536/16499718/-/3dhbqw/-/index.html
In addition, it was the evening meeting that would produce the Roll Call Vote of the States to nominate Barack Obama & Joe Biden for the respective positions on the Democratic Ballot for President & Vice President of the U.S.
On Both Tuesday & Wednesday, I made sure I was in the Arena early enough to capture a seat in the PA Delegation area next to the Pennsylvania Pole Standard. Proof in the pudding is a photo that shows exactly where I was. While seated, I had the fortunate pleasure of sitting directly in front of Congressman Chaka Fattah, and his lovely wife and NBC's Channel 10 News Anchor Renee Chanault-Fattah; great conversations.
During the evening's events and onstage activities, Amber Riley, from the cast of the TV series Glee performed. along with vocalist Ledisi. Notable politicians spoke as well, including and not limited to: Debra Wasserman Schultz, Steny Hoyer, Harry Reid, Cory Booker, Gov. Deval Patrick, President Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, Alyson Schwartz, Ken Salazar, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Tammy Duckworth, Rahm Emanuel, & Ed Rendell. Elizabeth Warren gave the keynote introductory speech.
Earlier in the evening, I gave additional interviews to reporters of the Associated Press (AP), National Public Radio (NPR), The Nation, and the Post-Gazette. Just Prior to Bill Clinton's address, the reporter from the AP asked me what I thought Bill Clinton might say, and how he would be perceived. I told him that it could be summarized in 2 words, "Bill Clinton"; he smiled at me & said I was probably right.
President Clinton did not disappoint myself, nor the gathering of delegates, as he was "Classic Bill Clinton" in his speech. I can't remember when he didn't have the ability to wrap his audience around his little finger, explain things in the simplest of terms that anyone couid understand, and convey it in such a manner, that you didn't want him to stop.
At the conclusion of his speech, and his motion to nominate President Obama and Vice President Biden for a second term, the Roll Call commenced of the State delegations. Although there was not a contested nomination, it took quite some time for the Pennsylvania Delegation to cast it's votes. Senator Bob Casey was the PA Delegation Chair who spoke for the Delegation. Standing directly behind and to his right, I was able to participate in nominating the President of the United States; quite an honor.
At about 12:40am, just over an hour and a half later than it was scheduled to conclude, members of our delegation walked the 2 blks to the reception for the Mid-Atlantic States, which included New York, New Jersey, PA & Delaware at the Discovery Place. It was quite late, and in fact I only stayed about a half hour, and in that regard didn't get back to Hotel till almost 3am. Up at 5:30am didn't give me much rest, and at that hour my physical body could not write a Blog for that days events :-)
With just over 2 hours sleep, Day 5, the Final Day of the Convention began on Thursday morning. An additional Delegate Breakfast, with speakers, a group photo for the entire PA Delegation, as well as one for Montgomery County Delegates was at hand. After returning back to our Hotel, I prepared to go back Uptown for a Youth Caucus meeting, a visit to MSNBC to watch their on air happenings, some final souvenir shopping and a return to the Arena, which was a change in venue.
The last evening was supposed to take place at the Bank of America Stadium with over 100,000 guests from all over the U.S., in addition to the Delegates. Unfortunately, with heavy downpours that had been experienced the previous evenings, and a prediction of severe weather during the convention, a decision was made, for safety reasons, to move the final nite to the Arena where the 1st 2 nites were held. I felt dissapointed for those that could not attend because of the size of the arena, but rather be safe than sorry. A number of watch parties were put together in Charlotte, so that those who could not be there in person, at least had large groups of people together to watch the acceptance speeches given.
Upon arriving early at the Arena, I comandeered a seat closer to the stage, with good sight view, and was within about 50 feet of the stage; WOW !!! Vocalist and Singer James Taylor had just performed with his Band for practice, when he came down off stage and was giving out autographs and having photos taken. Myself, never feeling shy, had the opportunity of meeting a legendary singer, got his autograph on my Thursday evening's credential, and a fellow offered to take a picture of me with him using my camera; Boy was that a great experience.
Additional performers who practiced their evening performance were Jessica Sanchez, this year's runner up on the American Idol TV series, Mary J. Blige, The Foo Fighters & Marc Anthony.
As what happened the previous evening, a plethora of politico's arrived on stage to make brief comments: John Kerry, Barbara Mikulski, Barney Frank (Who by the way decided to go unscripted and eliminated the teleprompter by ad-libbing his entire speech), and Beau Biden. Other notables speaking were, Eva Longora, Scarlett Johannson, Jim Senegal (CEO of Costco), and Rich Trumka, a PA Resident and head of the AFL-CIO. Dr. Jill Biden introduced her husband & Vice Presient Joe Biden for his address. Joe didn't dissapoint us; a well crafted dissertation of why the President should serve a 2nd term. The key phrase he put out for everyone, encapcillated the issues, of the Economy & Jobs and National Security that the Obama Adminstration was responsible for; Namely that, "Osama Bin Laden was Dead" and that "GM is Alive".
Prior to the 1st Lady coming out to introduce her husband, a short clip was shown that really revved up the audience. Here is the Link, for FIRED UP & READY TO GO !!!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhWDFgRfi1Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player
When President Obama came on stage, and I was only 50" away from the stage, we were all, "Fired Up & Ready to Go". In my opinion, he gave an uplifting and compelling Nomination Acceptance Speech. If you didn't hear it, go on youtube and/or it will be included in this blog as an attached item.
When his speech ended and the confetti was unleashed, and the roar of the audience that was ear deafening, I felt as though I was an Olympian on the field at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and on the set of the end of the season epsiode of American Idol.
Goosebumps, patrioitism, and being lucky enough to have the opportunity to be there, & watching history being made, was a culmination of a week long experience that I will never forget. Regardless of one's political persuasions, being able to participate in personally nominating and seeing in Person the President of the United States, shows how average Americans can partiicpate in making this Country a better place to live in.
Frank S. Burstein, Delegate to the Democratic National Convention