(Author’s Note: This is Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1 here)
Well, I definitely made some new friends and I certainly watched some glass ceilings come down in a bajillion pieces and it was all worth it! To see my Senator, Barbara Mikulski take the stage and be recognized as the first woman into the US Senate (sadly retiring), and to watch my former Commonwealth’s Governor, who turned into a Senator, and who is now Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running-mate, Tim Kaine, and be in the same “room” with them and 50,000 other people was incredible. That’s so not the word, but I can’t find the right one just yet, either!
Wednesday evening, I was moved from my post in Suite 2 to Suite 19, still on the balcony, but Wednesday night was for the record books in terms of exciting nights of my life! Our guests in suite 19 were just some of the American people who have seen the worst in America. Luckily, they see the best in Hillary and came and spoke as amazing surrogates.
Angela Bassett introduced two women who were in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on that fateful night at Bible study. Grief into action. Say their names. Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard and their husbands were in Suite 19 for the evening. I would like to think my teammates and I served up some Southern hospitality in the City of Brotherly Love for them!
Tyrone Sanders, after his wife finished her remarks, said to my friend, Jennifer, who was in the suite with us, “I was proud of her on that day, and I’m proud of her now. I could have lost 3 family members that day.” Gut-wrenching! He was amazing in his lavender shirt which he told us he wears for his son.
Tyrone Sanders & Lauren
Jamie Dorff, who married the boy she grew up with when she was 21, lost her husband, Pat in 2004 in Iraq. Jamie and her daughter, Brissa, were in our suite before, during and after Jamie’s speech. To sit (ok, I was standing the entire time!) and watch Brissa watch her mom on that podium, that world’s stage, and just bawl crying was something that will rock my world for a while. To get that up-close with the people who’ve seen and felt the worst is heart-grabbing.
Cap off Wednesday night with getting onto the elevator with Christine Leinonen and her only son’s friends as they make their way down and out of the Wells Fargo Center, where she had received a standing ovation and 38 seconds of applause mid-speech. Honestly, really? Is this happening? I couldn’t’ stop myself. I had to say something to her and while I wasn’t a blubbering idiot, I honestly don’t remember what I said, but she touched my forearm and said, “I did it for you, and I hope you never experience anything like it.” She reiterated that the outpouring of love from Orlando and this country has been and continues to be amazing. I didn’t add that my fabulous husband donated blood at my suggestion after seeing so many in line the next morning, but he did!
I had been joined by friends in Suite 19 and even made new ones. The world is a small place. A McEnearney agent and friend, Brett West, who volunteered on the floor with the Vermont Delegation, (lucky him!) brought a friend with him to Suite 19 on Wednesday evening and I was very happy to play hostess to them and witness our President’s speech along with them and all the rest! He didn’t bring Ben, he was just a crasher!
Brett West & Lauren
Ben crashes Suite 19!
Brett watching Barack!
Peter Newbold, a friend from Alexandria and the Electoral Board there, (since moved to Seattle) was hosting and assisting with the speakers and getting them from suite to podium. It was like no time had passed when he walked into 19 with them. Just good Alexandrians doing good! What could be better?!
Peter Newbold & Lauren
I’ll tell you what’s better, the Secret Service Officer who was “on duty” from as high up as we were, but who was still willing to take a pic (zoom & no zoom) of Barack speaking at the podium!
Thursday I didn’t have volunteering duties, so I hung out around the Pennsylvania Convention Center for a bit, bought some campaign paraphernalia, saw Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. & had lunch with my favorite Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Honorable Adam P. Ebbin! You know – a typical day!
Zoomin’ in on 44!
Sen. Ebbin & I
Hard to see the fun week come to an end, but I wanted to be home with my mother to watch Chelsea introduce hers and witness HERSTORY with my mom, who, of course, shed a tear or two watching!
There are lots of good people in the world, folks!
Happy August, Make It Count!