PHILADELPHIA -- Arkansas Democrats who have been dreaming of a Hillary Clinton presidency for eight years or longer saw her take another step toward the White House on Thursday evening.
Two days after they nominated her for the nation's top office, they returned to Wells Fargo Arena and watched her accept the nomination.
A few had friendships stretching back to Fayetteville in the 1970s. Others claimed relationships dating from Little Rock in the 1980s. Some knew her only from her post-Arkansas life as the nation's first lady, the U.S. senator from New York, a globe-trotting secretary of state or a two-time presidential candidate.
When she agreed to be her party's standard-bearer, they contributed to the deafening roar that enveloped the convention hall.
As she spoke, they tended signs reading "HILLARY" and "STRONGER" and "TOGETHER."
And when it was over, they waved flags and waded in confetti and popped red, white and blue balloons and then held hands as a United Methodist minister prayed for "radical hospitality" and an end to discrimination of all kinds.
As the building began to empty, Arkansans were united in praising her comments.
"I think the speech was one of the best acceptance speeches that I've ever heard, and I've been coming to conventions a long time," said Ada Hollingsworth of Little Rock. "It's such a historic moment. She had a historic speech."
Joshua Price said the speech was inspirational, "everything that Donald Trump's speech was not."
"She touched on people of every race, creed, religion, gender, sexuality, disabilities, everybody," the delegate from Maumelle said. "That's what makes the Democratic Party so special because it is inclusive and it is the real face of America."
Former state Rep. Kathy Webb of Little Rock said Clinton had delivered a powerful message. "It was a great speech, it was a unifying speech," she said. "She has a plan, a vision. Her passion came through. Her heart came through."
State Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock said it was "a speech that was worthy of the occasion and one that pushes the bounds of history."
"This is the beginning of another four years where we know we're going to make strides, and she does not take that lightly. She's a studied, serious woman, and that's what our country needs right now."
Thursday night, Arkansas Democrats' excitement was particularly high.
But throughout the week, Arkansans spoke about what a Clinton victory would mean for the nation. As Democrats, they expressed optimism about the future with her at the helm.
Another Clinton presidency "would be fabulous and it would be to the benefit of all the people of this great nation," said former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln on Wednesday.
Clinton would excel at leadership, problem solving and bridge building, Lincoln said, adding, "She knows how to bring people together. She can do it. We're looking forward to it."
Another Arkansas native, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, said a Clinton victory "will mean great days are here for America," helping to rekindle "a spirit of optimism and hope and bring people together."
Ann Henry, the woman who hosted Bill and Hillary Clinton's wedding reception, also journeyed to Philadelphia to celebrate the historic milestone.
"She'll be a wonderful president," Henry said. "It's going to be great to see her in the White House."
Metro on 07/29/2016