Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Inauguration of Barack H. Obama

Our day started early, arising at 3:10 to catch a charter bus at 4:30 in Martinsburg, WV, for our trip to the inauguration.
Our arrival.    We were among some 1000 buses parked at RFK Stadium.    Here's my traveling companion, my son Jon, after alighting -
We were all moved the two miles plus to the Capitol by a large number of shuttle buses rotating between RFK and about 7th Street.    Crowds were very large but very orderly.    It took a little while to get on one of the shuttles but we were fortunate to have gotten a very nice, but a little aggressive, driver who got us to our destination without too much time passing.

After leaving the shuttle, this is 'our crowd' moving toward the mall.
As I've mentioned before, we had tickets for the Silver standing area so I knew that we needed to backtrack because the gate I was heading for was on Fourth Street on the Independence Avenue side of the mall.    Our journey took us past at least two massive nonmoving 'lines' of people who said they were the Silver ticket holder line.    They just didn't seem to be in the right place to me   --   much too far from where I thought Fourth Street was   --   so we kept moving, finally arriving at Fourth Street and turned toward the Mall.    Things are a bit of a blur at this point but I don't really remember a line here.    Just large gluts of people that we had to get through/by until finally arriving at the security gate where we were whisked through and into our destination.

The area was very full where we first entered but by skirting that bunch and moving across the area and toward the Capitol Building we were able to finally arrive at a pretty good location.    This is about were we started (looking toward the Washington Monument) -(looking toward the Capitol) -
From there we moved forward to this spot -and finally ending up here -
Here's the two of us at our 'spot' -

And the culmination:

I didn't even try to videotape the President's Inaugural Address.    I figured it would be much better recorded by the professonals.    So I just tried to listen for his message.    I must say that there on the Mall I was disappointed     I had expected and hoped for something more lofty, uplifting, ennobling and challenging.    I now believe, however, having listened again to the tivo'd version in the quiet of my home, that in the midst of the crowd my attention was assaulted by too many distractions leading me to a degree of inattention sufficient to blur my understanding and appreciation of it.    While perhaps not as lyrical as some, the new president's inaugural address was certainly adequate in challenge, direction and aspiration.

And, as though more were needed, the ex-president took off for his last 'fly-over'.Bye-bye, "W".

Jon and I briefly considered trying to see what the parade crowd might be like but, that being an event where the President would be much closer to the spectators, security was much, much tighter and that combined with just the absolute mass (think two million) of people there was sufficient to make access difficult enough to deter two cold and tired souls.    We did, however, decide that we had plenty of time so we would walk back to RFK rather than try to hook up with one of the shuttles.    Bad idea.    Not unmitigated bad, just further than it sounded and dressed in multiple layers and heavy boots, the old guy got very tired.

Remember those 1000 buses parked at RFK?    That meant that our trip home started in a two hour traffic jam leaving the lot.    Started to leave about 5:00.    Got out of the lot at 7:00.

Am I glad I went?    On balance, definitely.    I think I was a little disappointed that I didn't see and feel that absolute joy that we saw and felt in the faces of those lucky folks in Grant Park on election night.    Happiness and elation, but not that pure joy.    But I am glad I was there, if for no other reason than I know that I would have always regretted not having been there when I had the opportunity if I hadn't gone.

Here's Jon's take on it.


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