A Silent Thank You

I missed a small story yesterday — although it was a story that a sizable  community within our country will probably still discuss with pride 50 years from now.

A young Deaf man, a student at Prince Georges Community College, was excited about meeting Obama at a rally last week.  Camera in hand, he gestured to the President in American Sign Language “I am proud of you.”

Obama responded to him with the Sign for “thank you.”

Hello, I would love to share my experience; something that I will not forget for rest of my life. Today was a special day for me, and I was preparing for it. It was announced yesterday, March 14, for everyone to receive tickets to see none other than the President of the United States, Barack Obama!

When I got ready to get up the morning at 7 am, I did not rush and took my time since the admission started at 8:30 am. I ate some breakfast and got onto the train to get to Prince George’s Community College. When I got there, there was such a long line and I got so worried that I wouldn’t get a good seat to be able to see my interpreter! How was it possible for me to understand what Obama had to say?!

I decided to let go of my nerves and went with the flow. I waited in line to go through security. Security was almost like security at the airport. It was the first time for me to experience that kind of security outside an airport. Of course, I have been to airports numerous times, but it was my first time to have that kind of experience on my college campus. I was not used to it. I saw the actual Secret Service, and you could feel how serious and strict they were, much different than dealing with county and even state police! You could tell they were not playing around.

When I got in, I took many videos. What amazed me is that it took two hours to make it just right before Obama started. I did not realize how great of seats there were for us deaf people. Right front of Obama. I sat in VIP with the Governor Martin O’Malley and many other important people. So, it started at about 11. Obama was right front of me. I was ready to jump up and walk toward him and shake his hand. Could you imagine how the Secret Service would’ve responded? When I watched Obama give his speech on the stage I thought to myself, “No way, Obama is not standing right in front of me! Wow!”

If you want to know more about what Obama’s speech was about, you can find out online. I was close enough to touch Martin O’Malley on his shoulder but I didn’t want to bother him. I regret I could have done better holding my camera while talking to Obama. The moment I will never forget was when he looked at me. He gave me a chance to talk to him. It was like he was waiting for me to say something. I took the moment and signed “I am proud of you,” and his response was “Thank u” in sign language back! Oh my gosh! I was like wow! He understood me after I said I was proud of him. It was so amazing…I was just speechless. Right after he thanked me, he smiled at another deaf lady who signed “I love you.” When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me. He was just a humble man. I am just impressed by him and know that he will have my vote and he will win second term without a doubt. Yeah, I feel safe to have him for another term.

It may surprise some people here, but in other forums I’m often challenging Obama supporters who cannot seem to understand why everyone else doesn’t love the man the way they do.  I am pleased with much of what Obama does, frustrated by some of it, and overall feel very little conflict about supporting him in November.  (I would rather lobby him for good policies than any of the Republicans.)  But this lack of empathy with the vast majority of the electorate that may be induced to support Obama, yet has not “drunk the kool-aid” (as critics of true believers often say, is a weakness within the campaign.  It’s hard to convince people of it, but sometimes the best way to help a candidate is not to be so in love with him or her that it blinds one to what other people see.

And then something like this happens and I have to tell them — “yeah, but I do get why you feel that way.”  In the Deaf community, Obama’s spontaneous reply will be unforgettable.

(And, as I was composing this, his reaction to the Trayvon Martin killing came out — “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” — and I have to admit to his fervent supporters again that I do get why they love him even more than might be politically wise.)

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)