Washington Post: That February morning in 2008 found Barack Obama decidedly out of sorts.
He was locked in one battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination that showed no signs of ending — and another with a vicious cold that felt the same way.
As he rode the service elevator in the backway of a convention hotel here, the snowy-haired African American operating it turned suddenly. He held out a black-and-gold bit of fabric embroidered with a screaming eagle.
“Senator Obama, I have something I want to give you,” the man said. “I’ve carried this military patch with me every day for 40 years, and I want you to carry it, and it will keep you safe in your journey.” Obama tried to refuse, but the older man persisted.
Big endeavors can find their meaning in small moments.
Later that day, Obama and his aides discussed the encounter. The future president pulled the patch from his pocket, along with about a dozen other items people had pressed upon him.
“This is why I do this,” he said. “Because people have their hopes and dreams about what we can do together.”
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate about preparations for Hurricane Earl during a call in the Oval Office, Sept. 1, 2010. Listening at right is Richard A. Reed, Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)