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Sunday, January 27, 2013


Inauguration Day got a spectacular start in Washington, DC  last Monday.  The city's skies  were filled with a sunrise that seemed like God's version of the American Flag.

   I smiled, I stared, and my mind sang, "Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light".   Corny but true, it was hard not to feel patriotic.
    The hundreds of  people rushing past our Capitol Hill apartment paid no mind.  They moved quickly through the darkness and thirty-five degree weather to claim places to see the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
     Francesca and I had never been to one.   We were there because Travelocity had sent us a "price alert" two months ago that said, "Washington, DC $159 RT".   Her son, Ruy, offered us a place to stay.   We had to go, to take this victory lap with the diversified coalition who had helped re-elect Obama.
     We had it easy.  We met many who had spent twenty hours riding buses to get there. All we had to do was to bundle up and join the pilgrimage.
     Truth be told, it wasn't that easy.  Imagine getting on a plane with 800,000 other people.  That many bodies had to walk this way, that way, and ease their way through metal detecting security to see the Big Moment. 
  The guards did not check for shoe bombs but curiously, they did confiscate all apples and oranges.  They couldn't say why.    
 It was a heck of a hike, no place for the old or faint-of-heart. Our tickets allowed us to stand in a huge, fenced-in square, with 10,000 others, on the Capitol Mall.  There were plastic squares beneath us to protect the grass.
  If you had no ticket, you headed for a much bigger area, just behind us, that stretched a mile back.   To have more room we stayed in the back of our corral.  Some had enough room to sleep.  

Workers passed out thousands of little flags but they ran out by the time they got to us.  We waved arms instead.
     At 10 am the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir began revving up in the distance.  The  mega-speakers and huge TVs ("Jumbotrons") let us know what we were looking at.  At 11, members of Congress were introduced with the partisan crowd cheering or booing at the appropriate moments.
     You probably were as thrilled as we were when Mr. and Ms. Obama finally made their entrance.  100,000 Super Bowl fans make quite a roar.  Multiply that by eight.
      A few minutes before noon the Chief Justice finally got around to administering the oath.  We were relived that he did not screw up this time.
    We loved the President's inauguration address.  He dramatically invoked the beginning of a new era, one that included the diverse group that was surrounding us. Even the sleepers were standing now. We stood together in a sea of happiness. We cheered our president's promise to take us in a new, progressive direction.
     Yes, we also heard songs sung by James Taylor,  Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce, but Barack Obama was the star. We were proud of him, the things he said, and proud to be citizens of the country celebrating this new beginning.
   The choir closing with "Battle Hymn of the Republic" gave us goosebumps.  So did the falling temperatures.  As we disbursed hundreds of us headed to the closest warm place, the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art.
   As guards yelled, "No flags allowed!" and we streamed in, they quickly piled up by the door. 
Inside tired people were already asleep killing the three hours before the Inauguration Parade.
  You had to go through security for that too but this time they let us keep our apples.
     At 3:30 pm the first bands and military units marched by.  

Minutes later a roar of excitement began rolling up Pennsylvania Avenue.  As it approached us we craned our necks, trying to see past the thick crowd between us and the procession. 
  Moments later we could the parade's stars between a sea of secret service agents, cops and cameramen.  The President and his wife were walking briskly, waving, and smiling at the crowd. 

 What a thrill it was to see them pass by. 
 A few minutes later Joe and Jill Biden did the same. 

After these four had passed, half of the crowd went home. They had seen enough.  
  We were on the first row for the remainder of the procession.  
  We tried to keep the parade's spirit going when we returned to Coconut Grove the next morning.  Unfortunately, the only roar we heard was from our cat.  And it was more of a yawn.


See those guys in the tower in front of the President?
Just to the left (and above) are Francesca and I.  We are wearing grey and orange hats.
 At a half-mile away, we were still closer than most of the people attending. 


1 comment:

  1. I love this post! It's just as if I was right there with you... thanks!!!