We live in an amazing country. For the 44th time in 220 years, last week our government inaugurated a new leader, in a peaceful and celebratory way. Whatever our politics, we often take for granted the “peaceful” part of these transitions. How many countries in the world can say that power is always transferred without a coup or a battle? Outgoing President George W. Bush graciously paved the way for a new administration, and incoming President Barack Obama escorted the Bushes to a waiting helicopter after the ceremony.
You may know that four people from VPC attended the inauguration with a group that went from our high school: Jordan Molla, Patrick Snyder, Marte Johannessen (exchange student from Norway), and chaperone Darlene Snyder. I asked each of them to write a few words about this once-in-a-lifetime experience for today’s blog. Enjoy!
My trip started on the Jan.17th with an eleven hour bus ride to Washington DC. Our group, along with 100,000 other people, attended the “We Are One” concert on the Jan. 18th. I think this is when everything started to sink in. I stood there facing the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington monument and the capitol to my back singing patriotic/ inspirational songs with everyone in the crowd. I was not just here to visit amazing museums and monuments. I was here, witnessing a moment in history that I will never forget.
I knew that inauguration day was going to be crazy with the number of people they expected to be there. I’ve never seen so many supportive people in one place at a time. Later I heard there were 2.5 million people there and we were all packed into a 6 mile radius. I’m just glad to say that I was about half a mile away from the capitol with a perfect view of everything. It was something that will stay in my mind forever. I can’t begin to explain the change in the atmosphere the second Obama came into view on the screens. When they showed him, I couldn’t help but smile! That’s when I started to say to myself, “Am I really here? Is this really happening?”
I loved Washington DC and I would go back in a heart beat. However, it wouldn’t be the same without 2.5 million people there. Seeing peoples daily life would really be a shocker. –Jordan Molla
Standing in a crowd of nearly 2 million people, I felt a complex swirling of emotions; a surreal feeling that the eyes of the entire world were watching as history was made. Knowing this, I knew there was no better place in the world to be than on the National Mall in Washington DC on January 20th– despite the crippling cold, suffocating crowds, and tightened security. I noticed on January 20th that the clouds finally receded and a beautiful, albeit cold, blue winter’s sky opened up before the crowd of jubilant onlookers. The previous days, the cold gray sky blended in with the hard marble and cold granite of the numerous, imposing government buildings; but on this day, they shone with a brilliance fit for a photograph. The people, too, shone, alive with the hope that a new president and a new era brings.
Standing there in that crowd and being apart of history like that was amazing. Yes it was extremely cold and uncomfortable standing there for that long, but when Barack Obama entered the stage for his inaugural address everything changed. The cold bitterness changed into laughter and happiness.
People from every background, race and religion danced, sang and laughed together. Everybody was welcome, and that is what I think this era will be all about. Welcoming and accepting.
It was an amazing experience…not very comfortable…but amazing and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. People (around two million of them) streamed onto the Mall from all directions and all walks of life. It was extremely cold – about 18 degrees I think, but that did not deter us. Jumbotrons and audio were set up in strategic locations all over the mall so you could see and hear everything. The energy was palpable. To be in a crowd of that size should have been scary. There were times when we had zero personal space…and I mean that literally. But it wasn’t scary. Everyone was so happy! You could actually feel their happiness. When Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address, there was a great hush as the crowd soaked up his words. This was no ordinary crowd and no ordinary political rally. It truly seemed like we were all family. People were so emotional – crying, laughing, hugging each other. I heard that there weren’t any arrests, for a crowd of that size – what a miracle.
I don’t know if I’ve ever actually felt “unity” but I did experience it in Washington D.C. on Tuesday January 20, 2009. This simple fact gives me more than hope for the future and our nation. –Darlene Snyder