Guest Columns

DUNCAN: MY HEART IS SOARING

Tired butt, warm heart, and pride for my hometown

My legs, feet and butt are very tired. My heart is soaring because of an inspiring speech and the promise of the renewal of the American spirit. And I have never been so very proud of my hometown, Denver, Colorado.

As we closed the book on a hugely successful Democratic Convention from Denver’s point of view by meeting the very high expectations at the closing session with a huge and very inspired capacity crowd at Invesco Field, Denver should tell our city’s Mayor and all his minions, “job very well done. Thank you.”

I was downtown several times last week soaking up the atmosphere of the week, taking long hikes along the mall. Small groups or single people, mostly young, carried signs and petitions, and shouted their message. No serious confrontations, some spirited debates, but all in a tone of jovial civility. Free speech and welcome discussions held forth while vendors hawked all kinds of buttons, shirts, and every conceivable kind of political merchandise, with crowds wearing all kinds of political costumes.

On Thursday I began my journey to the only official convention session I attended, the closing session with 80,000 others at what I still like to call Mile High Stadium. I opted to park downtown and take the light rail from Union Station to the stadium.

I arrived downtown in time for a quick lunch on the mall, watched broadcasts from the MSNBC site behind Union Station, and caught the light rail about 1:30 for Invesco Field Station.

We bypassed the crowded light rail station at the stadium and were taken to the Auraria West station. That’s where the tired feet and legs started as we worked our way in a long and slow line winding through the Auraria campus to the stop of our original intention.

From there, however, it took less than 30 minutes to pass security and get inside the stadium about 3:00. That’s where the tired butt came from.

The crowds, however, were friendly and excitedly expectant. We heard some interesting and strong speeches about issues, heard several “ordinary” folks tell their personal stories about what Bush policies had done to make their lives very unhappy and much less secure.

Short speeches by Governor Bill Ritter, Senator Ken Salazar and the Colorado Democrats in office were welcomed with applause. Even more than a dozen U. S. military Generals stood in line while their spokesman told us why they oppose John McCain and strongly support Senator Barack Obama as Commander in Chief.

The real excitement started with a stirring speech by Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden.

The finale was the surprisingly strong and firm remarks of presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Although he has long had a reputation as a strong and emotional orator, he surprised the pundits and most of his audience with a strong condemnation of Bush policies and McCain’s support of them.

He challenged McCain on every front, from domestic policies to energy policy, to his positions on the international front.

I thought his strongest point was a challenge to debate McCain on who has the “judgment and temperament” to be Commander in Chief in these trying times.

The capacity crowd cheered, waved American flags, and stood to applaud Obama at almost every sentence.

I have been to many political events in my journey through politics, as a journalist, professional politician, a lobbyist, and as a personal political activist, beginning in the 1950’s. I have become pretty hard to impress.

But “impressed” I was by the Obama acceptance speech. I laughed and cried. I applauded and waved a flag. I haven’t done those things very much recently.

My heart soared as I watched the speech, the supporters, and even the expected fireworks at the end.

I got out of the stadium rather quickly, easily caught a light rail train back to Union Station. I spent a little more time watching live MSNBC broadcasts, took the shuttle back downtown, had a quick snack, retrieved my car and drove home well before midnight. As I pondered the week I concluded that we should applaud our visitors, our local citizens and leaders, and even the few protestors.

Yeah, my legs, feet and butt were tired. But that hardly matters at this point.

We should be very proud of Denver, our mayor, our police department, our city council, and all those who worked so hard.

The naysayers will gripe and express their petty gripes. Pay them no mind.

Congratulations Denver. Thanks for showing the world a world class city doing a world class job under pressure.

I am thrilled to live in Denver.

Norman Duncan is a former lobbyist, current Democrat and proud to call Denver his
hometown.