Yesterday, January 20, 2009, I stood with 2 million other people in the freezing cold to witness the Inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States. Wow, even just typing that gives me chills. Up until yesterday, I had never been a willing witness to an historical event. I witnessed the horror of September 11th, not by choice, but still unable to tear myself away. I was too young to fully understand the historical events of the Challenger or the Berlin Wall, but yesterday...I will remember this day. I will remember this amazing historical day and I will tell my children "I was there." And I have the buttons and pictures to prove it!
My part-time job took a bus of 40 teenagers and 10 staff members to D.C. late Monday night and we crashed at a community center. I am way too old to be sleeping on a hardwood floor, and today my body is paying for it. I feel like someone beat me up with a baseball bat, but it was worth it. We woke up at 5AM and hit the streets by 6, walking towards the mall. We were only about 5 blocks away, but since there was so much pedestrian traffic and road closings, it took us 1.5 hours to get to the National Mall. Our group parked themselves in front of one of the HUGE jumbo-trons so that we could see everything. Some people wanted to get closer to see the capital, but it just wasn't possible. With a group of other people's kids, we needed to make sure that if anything happened, we could get out fast. In the end, though, it didn't matter - we had a great view for a great event.
I could tell you about the crowds, and how it took us 3 hours to move 5 blocks, but the telling doesn't quite describe the situation. If you watched the Inauguration on TV, you surely saw the millions of people on the Mall, waving flags. Now, imagine ALL of those people trying to leave at the same time, yet being confined to one street because of the parade route. Yeah, I got really close with lots of strangers. But the best part was no one was fussy, angry, pushing, shoving or complaining. Yeah, maybe some people muttered under their breath, but everyone was in an upbeat mood. We were starving, freezing, exhausted and exhilirated! I finally made it home by 8PM and just crashed. I'm still exhausted today, but it was 100% worth it.
Now, finally...I feel a sense of optimism and hope for our country. I don't know what the next 4 years will bring, but I can only hope that we will move onward and upward. President Obama, don't let me down. We need you.