'Say it Barack': Obama addresses his people

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From high in the towering Mile High stadium our eyes latched on to the inch-high stick figure of Barack Obama in the distance, his rich baritone voice booming confidently out into the night sky: "With profound gratitude and great humility" he began, "I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States."

Gathered in front of him in a sea of waving flags was the very portrait of America he set out to mobilise, when he began his unlikely quest for the Democratic nomination some 20 exhausting months ago.

An extraordinary multiracial mix of people of all ages, and backgrounds had heeded Obama's message to "stand up" and become directly involved in politics.

There were elderly black men and women, tears welling up in their eyes, who quietly reminisced about colour lines, segregated buses and schools and the racial discrimination they had grown up with. Here they were on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech watching the first black man in American history receive the nomination for the White House of a major political party.

For over five hours they waited good-naturedly in the baking Colorado sunshine. Many had taken long overland journeys to get here, driving up into to the foothills of the Rockies from the surrounding prairie states.

They had pooled their money to pay for petrol and food and were staying on the floors of friends and friends of friends. More came by Greyhound bus or flew in from the coasts for the chance to send Obama on his way for the last perilous phase of his unlikely campaign to become president.

There were plenty of the Democratic party faithful in the audience too, the delegates from every state in the country, standing out like fashion free zones, wearing clashing combinations and waving little stars and stripes flags.

There were the Hillary holdouts, delegates who brought misery to the democratic convention organisers all week by threatening to make a scene on the floor of the Convention hall if their candidate wasn't accorded enough respect. Many were hoarse from a week of politicking and late night partying, who felt a burden lift as they finally threw their lot in with Obama's grass roots movement.

As darkness enveloped the stadium, and Obama became almost invisible to the naked eye as he went through the paces of his speech. But his image loomed crisp and large in a video screen the size of a two-story bus.

For a full forty minutes he spoke, revealing to self-doubting Democrats that they are now ready to control the national conversation on issues the Republicans have dominated for so long. He listed the measures, from cutting the taxes of working people, to a foreign policy marked by cooperation, even tackling sensitive subjects as patriotism, the right to bear arms, and freedom of choice on abortion.

"Yes, we can," cried out a black woman sitting in front of me, each time the candidate made a declaration.

"America, this is not a time for small plans," the candidate declared while some in the audience responded, "Say it, Barack".

"I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al-Qai'da and the Taliban in Afghanistan," he said.

"Tell it to them, Barack," a group of black people replied with a chorus from across stadium joining in.

"I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. "

"I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom."

"Say it Barack".

And when he declared that "The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans... have not served a Red America or a Blue America they have served the United States of America," a wave of euphoria seemed to pass through the crowd.

But there was more to come as he turned the conversation around to say "I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you."

A teacher named Roch Girard, standing beside me erupted and grabbed my arm. "That's what it all about," he shouted out that is the message we need to hear, "We feel have been so beaten down and ignored we feel like puppets of the corporate world, but he understands our voice.

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