Oh happy day! It was amazing and so exciting and I’m so grateful that I got to be there for the Inauguration of President Obama and to be witness to America’s peaceful transition of power. Things I have to write down now so that I won’t forget them, first from Obama’s Inaugural Address:
“We will restore science to its rightful place… We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.” As soon as President Obama said “science,” I started to clap. That was less exciting to those around me, but I just couldn’t help myself.
President Obama referred to “our patchwork heritage” and I think that’s just perfect. Very few of us are anything but mutts of some sort – whether it be your family’s countries of origin, where you’ve lived or traveled, what you believe or who you say “your people” are, we’re all woven together of many threads.
“Your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you can destroy.” Awesome. Followed soon thereafter by “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Beautiful.
Our travel and experience:
People were everywhere, but not always where I expected to find them. I expected packed Metro trains heading downtown, but it wasn’t bad at all. It turns out that the biggest bottleneck was first-timers figuring out the Metro ticket turnstiles work. There were even seats left over when we got on at Greenbelt! By the time we got off at Gallery Place (L’Enfant Plaza was closed due to overcrowding), Metro had just opened up all the turnstiles and wasn’t asking for farecards. Hope they didn’t lose too many millions of dollars!
We walked about six miles and were on our feet for about six hours straight. Not too bad, considering how far we went. I mapped out our route, but it’s on a different computer. We went from Gallery Place through the 3rd St. tunnel under the Mall and down past 15th near the Washington Monument before we could actually get onto the Mall.
The crowd was in very good spirits for the vast majority of the day. People were happy, helping each other out and being good sports about inconveniences. The only place where we ran into trouble was at Independence and 15th, where jersey walls prevented the crowd from moving forward and resulted in greater and greater crowd density. SQUEEEEEEZE! The only time I’ve ever felt that squeezed before was on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. We got out and got around, but it was tight enough that I was very worried about the elderly woman in the wheelchair next to me and a young child that I saw a few feet away.
I almost bought a soft pretzel from a street vendor, who was heating them over coals in a shopping cart. Awesome. My lack of correct change and the realization that the coals had not yet sufficiently heated the pretzel to a tummy-warming temperature stopped me, not the questionable sanitary practices of the vendor nor the multitude of regulations that were being broken.
Funniest t-shirt I saw (and there were millions on parade): a picture of our new President with a giant afro and a comb stuck in his hair with the logo “PICK Barack Obama.” I took a picture but haven’t uploaded it yet. Best – and most useful – souvenir: Barack Obama Handwarmers. Those were hot commodities – hey-O!
Pictures soon, memories forever. SO glad we made the trip, but I think if I do it again, it will be because I personally know the person being inaugurated (hey – it’s possible!) or because I have tickets. Whew! And HOORAY!!!