Demo Magazine

Election Night Memories

Columbia College Chicago’s Demo Magazine

Link to original article: Portfolio: In Our Own Front Yard

Photo Credit: Alberto Galarza


“My husband, Alberto Galarza, got downtown around noon when the crowd was just beginning to gather. I joined him around 4:30 p.m. coming from the suburbs. I had to run all the way from Union Station because they were starting to let people in and I had our ticket. I arrived just in time completely out of breath and red faced. I nudged and excused myself through the people lined up to get inside to my husband who was waving his arms. Despite the long wait to get in the mood was electric.

“Thanks to Al’s perseverance in standing in line we were able to get spots about four rows behind the barricades separating the average crowd from the VIPs. We had to go through metal detectors and baggage searches. We had to stand for over eight hours shoulder to shoulder like at a rock concert, but the tears and hugging and the overwhelming sense of joy and hope from the crowd made every aching muscle insignificant. This moment lives in history and we were there to witness it. A Jumbotron and enormous speaker blasted the results state by state. The crowd erupted in bursts of cheers and applause for every state called for Obama. By the time Ohio was announced we knew it was clenched but no one wanted to say anything. It wasn’t over until it was over.

“And then they called it. I cried with a big smile on my face. Al and I kissed passionately; our hope and relief overfilled us with emotion. Everyone around us was hugging and crying—even complete strangers! The applause was thunderous. We hugged Hola and Melissa, a couple that I had met at Biden’s announcement in Springfield who just happened to be standing by us that night. It was like the stars and moon were aligned. When the bishop quoted Martin Luther King Jr., I felt how much we had matured as a nation. I said the pledge of allegiance and stood for the National Anthem for the first time since before the Iraq war began. My boycott was over. This day I felt like an American again.”

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