Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Was There: Washington D.C. January 20th 2009

I was in Washington D.C. for the inauguration, and I can happily and honestly say that all the cliches are true. The world has been changed for the better, even if it is just in small ways.

My uncle works for a painter's union in Chicago, so he received several tickets to the inauguration ceremony. He didn't decide to go until Friday, so when he arrived on Saturday night, he called me to ask if I wanted his extra tickets. Two of my friends and I roadtripped to D.C. on Sunday, arriving around Monday morning at 6am.

We spent the day exploring the mall, walking around the endless vendors selling Obama t-shirts, and screaming in the crowd of MSNBC. (We totally got on TV. You can try to find me in the crowd here.) Unfortunately, it was during Chris Matthews, but getting on TV is getting on TV. Also, Chris Matthews looks old in real life.

We rode the Metro a lot on Monday, and the atmosphere was unbelievable. People smiled at you. Gave up their seats. A few guys even offered me a shot of Jack Daniels. People sang on the subway. People talked to each other about themselves, politics, and even race.

Tuesday morning we woke up early and walked to the Mall. We had silver tickets, which were the farthest from the Capitol. We stood in a line (which was more like a mass of people) for about five hours. The security was almost nonexistent. My friend was asked once, about a mile from the mall if she had any guns. Other than that there was no police presence in our section. The mass of people we were in all had tickets, but we weren't being let it. About fifteen minutes before the inauguration started, we began to get panic-y. We squeezed our way through the crowd and jumped over a barrier. We got into the mall grounds without even showing our ticket.

After the nightmare of the morning was over, however, the inauguration was beautiful. We couldn't see properly, of course, but after getting on each other's backs and looking through our binoculars we were able to make out Barack's shape.

The ceremony was fairly indescribable. During Rick Warren's prayer, most people around me nodded their heads in reverence, but many people (including myself) didn't. However, everyone respected each others' choices. As Arthera began to sing, my eyes did fill with tears, and many people around me began to openly weep.

The tears continued for most people through Biden's oath, the beautiful John William's arrangement, and Mr. Obama's oath. An electricity went through the crowd as Barack finished his oath. Yes We Did. I looked around the crowd and found most people meeting my eyes. We smiled at each other, shocked, ecstatic, and proud. We all truly had helped to change this country. And we will continue to.

During my time in Washington I realized that Obama's presidency isn't really about him. He will surely disappoint us. Maybe he already has. However, we won't disappoint each other. We can't afford to. Obama's presidency is about us, citizens of America and the world, and the change we, not our elected leaders, will bring about it. It is symbolic of our willingness to begin working again for our nation, through service and most importantly conversation. Obama has ignited a spark in so many people from so many different backgrounds. It is our job to keep that spark alive, to fan it into a flame, and to morph it into a fire to burn for America. For peace. For hope. For love. For people of all colors. For women. For men. For people of all genders. For people of all sexual orientations. For people of all kinds.


Amelia said...

Great post, Kate! I'm so glad to hear that you had a good time. :)

I'm jealous, of course.
I did skip class to watch the inauguration, which for me is like...a big deal. ;)

FeministGal said...


lindsay said...

The stories I've heard from people are just amazing... What a great opportunity!

floreta said...

what an amazing experiece.

"Obama's presidency is about us, citizens of America and the world, and the change we, not our elected leaders, will bring about it."

well said. it is what i believed throughout his whole campaign.