July 23 07:19 PM

Imlay City grad is witness to history

Meredith Muir was among 200,000 at Obama's victory rally

A student at Wheaton College, Meredith was inspired by the words of the incoming president.
November 12, 2008
IMLAY CITY — Recent Imlay City High School graduate Meredith Muir enjoyed a unique view of history being made last Tuesday.

The Wheaton College freshman was among an estimated 200,000-plus who sandwiched into Chicago's Grant Park on election day for President-elect Barack Obama's victory rally.

It was an opportunity she might have missed had it not been for an invitation from a college friend. Though she was not an ardent Obama supporter, and had been torn between voting for Obama or John McCain, Muir jumped at the invitation.

"My friend had made a donation to Obama's campaign and he received an email inviting him to attend the rally," says Muir. "He invited me to go with him."

To ensure best access to the stage, the pair arrived at the park shortly after 2 p.m. Not surprisingly, they were greeted by long lines and heavy security.

"I think the entirety of the Chicago police force was there," Muir recalls. "There were four different security check points. We had to provide ID and go through metal detectors. They didn't allow us in until about 4:30 p.m."

Once inside, Muir and her friend melded into the crush of humanity, most of whom were hoping to witness a milestone in American history.

"The size of the crowd was amazing," she says. "It was like a sea of people. We were standing shoulder to shoulder with all of these crazy, celebratory Obama fans.

"There was an area up front for the celebrities," says Muir. "We were standing behind a barricade about 50 to 100 feet from the stage. We were really close."

A giant screen behind the stage offered attendees a clear view of CNN's election coverage, resulting in wild cheers whenever a state's electoral votes were projected to go to Obama.

"Each time the projections came in, the crowd would scream wildly," notes Muir. "When the announcement suddenly came that he had won, we were just floored. It seemed to have happened so quickly."

Just as quickly, Muir realized she was witness to something special.

"There were a lot of tears shed among the crowd. Some were singing 'We Shall Overcome,'" she says. "I think that captured the essence of the historical significance of what was happening."

For the increasingly joyful crowd, the best was still yet to come: The President-elect's victory speech, says Muir.

"The energy kept building up to his speech," she says. "When he finally came out, the crowd just went wild. It still feels surreal to me, to have been part of a truly historic event. It's something I'll be able to tell my children and grandchildren about — that I was there."

While not having been a strong Obama supporter leading up to the election, Muir now feels the new president's words offer hope for the future.

"His speech was very powerful," she says. "He was passionate and resolute. The crowd was riveted on his every word.

"My favorite part was when he talked about the 106-year-old woman; and I liked his urging that we all come together and of his being everyone's president," Muir continues.

"I walked away that night feeling very hopeful about the future,"she says. "And I'm anxious to see where he's going to take us. I think it will be in a better direction. Things were just not working in this country."

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