Witnessing History

January 20, 2009

I can’t believe that I was there to see Barack Obama get sworn in as President of the United States. It was an amazing experience.

I didn’t really see anything. I could see the Capital. Everything I saw, I saw on a jumbotron. The only thing that mattered was being a part of a million plus people who really just wanted something to be excited about. And they were excited. We were excited. We were also cold and tired but that didn’t matter. We were there.

The day started at 4:20am. We got up, got dressed, grabbed our food and got out the door. We left at 5am, got to the metro station 15 minutes later, had a little panic attack when we couldn’t turn left into the metro station but we went around the back and while there were a lot of cars and people, there was plenty of parking. The metro station was crowded but people moved through quickly and we got on a train with no problems.

Our only hitch for the day was that we couldn’t cross Pennsylvania Avenue (the parade route) which we had read we could, so after walking a bit, we doubled back and got back on a train to backtrack two stops. We met some very nice people from Southern California who were having the same problem and we told them our plan and they asked if they could follow us which of course was no problem.

The good news is that our plan worked and we were able to get to the mall except that we were about 10 blocks farther away from the Capitol than we had planned. We were going to keep walking and get as close as we could but after two blocks we were in front of the Washington Monument and up on a little hill and had a great view of the Capitol and a jumbotron screen. We decided to stay put in part because we figured being closer to the metro was better and because the mall was already looking really crowded. At 8am we had plenty of space for our blanket so that we could lay down and relax. By 10am, it was standing room only.

Here’s the important part. Using a potty was no problem. All the news reports kept saying there’s one bathroom for every 400 people. And maybe so, but when I needed to go, I was able to use a relatively clean porta-pottie without having to wait. They had TP and antibacterial gel so I was happy.

The ceremony was awesome. It is amazing how quiet one million people can be. And they were also quite loud, but at appropriate parts. If you saw it on tv, you know how great it was. Probably the only difference between your experience and my experience is that you could feel your toes and I couldn’t.

I really enjoyed President Obama’s inaugural address. He was able to balance the realism of the difficult times and the long road ahead with a feeling of hope and the potential for the future. He has a way of inspiring people and I hope that people, myself included, really will heed his call to action. President Obama has a way of uniting people to work towards a common purpose which is something really needed in our country and I left the ceremony feeling optimistic about the future.

I will admit that walking back to the metro station, I started to think that being there wasn’t worth all the trouble. But I think that was my low blood sugar talking. It took us nearly two hours to walk about a mile and a half. Then we were held up outside the metro station while they got people onto trains and cleared the masses off the platform. That was only about fifteen minutes and we got through the station gates quickly and a train pulled us as we were on the down escalator and we got on that train which thank goodness had seats available. Once I was sitting, I was again grateful to have been there.

All in all it took us 3 hours to get home. We got home at 3:30, which is what I had predicted. We were so smart this weekend, we good meals in advance so that once we got home, we could turn on the oven and reheat stuff and have hot, warming the inside, meals. On Sunday we had chicken and dumpling soup and today we had pizza and spaghetti and garlic bread. It was so fun to sit in front of the tv with our dinner and watch the tv coverage from the morning. We did a lot of fast forwarding, but we did watch the ceremony again. And everytime they showed the crowds we would say “I can’t believe we were there.”

I can’t believe we were there.


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A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

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