CHARLOTTE, November 4 – Wiping away tears, Democrat Barack Obama lauded his late grandmother Monday as one of America’s "quiet heroes" and delivered an impassioned vow to work for all such heroes if elected to the White House.,
Addressing thousands of supporters at his second-to-last campaign rally here, the presidential contender turned emotional as he paid tribute to the woman who helped raise him, following her death Monday at the age of 86.
Hours before Tuesday’s election showdown with Republican John McCain, Obama said Madelyn Dunham had passed away in her sleep after a long battle with cancer at her Hawaii home, with his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng by her side.
His voice thick with grief, the Illinois senator thanked McCain for an "incredibly gracious" statement of condolence and said this was a "bitter-sweet time for me."
"She is going home," he said. "So there is great joy as well as tears."
Obama recapped his grandmother’s life from her birth in 1922 and her marriage to his grandfather, their struggles through the Great Depression and with their daughter — his mother — through World War II.
"She was somebody who was a very humble person and a very plain-spoken person," he said.
"She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America. They’re not famous. Their names aren’t in the newspapers," Obama said.
"But each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren’t seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing.
"And in this crowd there are a lot of quiet heroes like that, mothers and fathers, grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives," drawing satisfaction from the hope of a better life for their own offspring.
"That’s what America is about," Obama exclaimed, his voice rising to a shout as the crowd responded with a roar.
"That’s what we’re fighting for. And North Carolina, in just one more day, we have the opportunity to honor all those quiet heroes all across America and all across North Carolina," he said.
"We can bring change to America to make sure that their work and their sacrifice is honored. That’s what we’re fighting for."