Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History Witnessed - Our 44th President

Might have noticed that network connections were completely jammed from roughly 9:30ET til I'd gotten far from the Capitol this afternoon. By the time the ceremony began, we'd moved to the west side of the frozen Reflecting Pool, at the top of the steps with a fairly good view of the jumbotron (few tall shoulders) and the podium (thru tree limbs).

Temps never rose above 31degrees and feeble attempts to march along with the Marine Band wouldn't budge our feet from numb. The crowd, however, remained diligent and grew more resilient as we spotted the motorcade arriving just to the right of our TV view.

Cheers rose from the crowd as dignitaries arrived on the scene - specifically cheering the Democrats and reserving a downright "boo" for only a few. As then-current President Bush was introduced, someone in our section began the chant, "nah, nah,nah, nah, hey, hey, goodbye" it picked up and wrapped around the entire section, ending only as it became clear the star of the show would come next. The music stopped and it became incredibly quiet amid more than 1million people.

Sound emitting from the speakers is slightly delayed as it travels the length of the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial so as Barack Obama took the oath of office, cheers could be heard blasting in echoing waves behind us for at least 30seconds. Tears of joy poured down the faces of many around me as we stood mesmerized by President Obama's call to "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and remake America".

Advance warning was given to choose in advance whether attending the Inauguration OR the parade as the crowd couldn't be accomodated moving from one to the other. Clearly that was the case as the mob made its way to the nearest Metro stop as a helicoptor flew the Bush family overhead and out of town. I later heard more than 866,000 people - new record expected - jammed Metro today. We walked about 3miles to reach a less crowded stop, finally reaching Dupont Circle at 2:30 for our first meal of the day since that half cup of coffee and yogurt at 5am.

Over Thai food, Marty, Barry and I sat, exhausted but in awe of the piece of history we'd just witnessed and exhilirated by the promise of a unified drive toward a brighter future.

Postscript: I'm watching the parade now, on TV, with a hot cup of tea, feet up with my generous hosts, Tim & Patrick. Funny thing is, my foot warmers only now got good and hot!

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