Wednesday, November 05, 2008

History in the making...

After the polls closed on election day, I attended a campaign party at the Rio hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there with my lifelong friend Vickie Pynchon and her husband Steve Goldberg, who joined her for the last few days of the campaign. Books will be written, analyses will be done, campaign strategies will be studied. On this night, November 4, 2008, the world witnessed a monumental, seminal moment in U.S. history. Vickie worked tirelessly for three nonstop weeks, knocking on doors, encouraging voters to go to the polls and help make a difference -- one vote at a time. Her efforts, along with thousands of others, clearly worked, as evidenced by overwhelming election results. Vickie was among 1,000 attorneys watching to make sure voting procedures were strictly followed and nothing was amiss. As I write this, Vickie and Steve are driving back to California -- leaving Las Vegas -- victorious. Also in town was my friend and fellow writer Susan Gembrowski with three other journalists who recently took buyouts from the San Diego Union-Tribune (I affectionately referred to them, while they were here, as Union-Trib refugees; the family owned paper from my hometown is being sold and each bailed ahead of the sale). Vickie, Steve and I watched President-elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech while standing in a bar at the Rio on our way from the buffet to the ballroom where Congresswoman Shelley Berkley was about to give her own acceptance speech. "We're missing it," Vickie said as we walked past the bar's widescreen TV. "Obama's speaking." We walked to the bar and stood mostly silent in front of the screen and listened to his acceptance. During his speech, Obama addressed people like Vickie when he described his grassroots campaign:
"It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy ... who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. "It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth. "This is your victory."
It was, indeed, Vickie's victory. She owned it. I asked her why she did what she did -- left her life and her legal mediation practice temporarily to immerse herself -- on her own dime and without pay -- in the presidential run for office. It was the first time in 40 years she was moved to help with an election, she said. And this one was too important not to help. After Obama's speech, I told her, "He was talking to you." She smiled and quietly said, "He was." Vickie walked in October during record-breaking temperatures on the streets of Henderson, Nevada, getting out the vote. After the speech, she looked to be on the verge of tears. I've known her most of my life, since she was 5 and I was 8, and she is one of my dearest friends. I am so very proud of her. Way to go, Vickie. And way to go, America.

3 comments:

Vickie said...

Thank YOU for getting out the vote with us on election day. You were GREAT; we never could have covered the turf we did without you!! And great to connect again. Let's not let decades pass again without seeing each other.

Steve Grant said...

I, too, can only say thank God (or whom/whatever) for the courage and dedication of people like Vickie (whom I've also known since we were both about five). I should have been out there myself, but like many others was too self-focused, locked in the details of my work and life, to do more than talk to others when the occasion arose and cast my own vote.

This was indeed a crucial turning point in our nation's--perhaps the world's--history. I've always been in awe of Vickie, knowing her to be an extraordinary person. Now more than ever I know it... and we are a little bit in her debt. Thank you, Vickie--and thanks, Cathy, for sharing what she did and so honoring her publicly.

Cathy Scott said...

Ditto with everything you said, Steve. Nicely put.

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