I was huddled with 17,000 others in near zero temperatures to help Barack Obama launch an improbable challenge to the prevailing politics and policies of Washington.
Men, women, and children from around the country shivered together in the shadow of the hulking capitol where Abraham Lincoln once served. They had come, an aroused citizenry, to change the course of history, and the sheer joy and energy of that mission made the threat of frostbite a trivial concern.
I returned to Springfield on Wednesday, not in a rented campaign van, but on Air Force One, accompanying the President of the United States on the anniversary of his audacious announcement.
As we walked into the empty plaza, the scene came alive in my memory: A young man at the podium, his voice booming off the surrounding buildings. Thousands of supporters shaking handmade signs, roaring their approval.
“I’d crawl to Iowa to work for this guy,” one middle-aged man told us that day, a sentiment I heard from so many others. Frigid cold be damned! They came to make history and change the country’s course. And they would.
So much of what Obama promised nine years ago has come to pass. He has turned around an ailing economy, enacted health reform, promoted clean energy, wound down two wars, lifted up diplomacy, and so much more. But people of all political stripes also responded to his call for national unity, healing, and renewal.
And on that score, we as a country have more work to do.
Former Senior Advisor to the President