That was the first comment from those that had attended in 2009. I remember thinking that year...with all of these people, so close together, “How can we all be so cold!!” Yes, it wasn't the frigid weather we faced in 2009, but there were other differences as well.
As expected the crowd was less..but, still the diversity was there, all ages, all races. This was definitely Obama’s crowd...the “47%” that turned out to be the “53%.” Is it no wonder that people who stood in long lines to elect him would have no problem waiting in long lines to see him sworn in?
This inauguration also seemed more contemplative than the festive, historic event of 2009. Probably because we all know that even with this talented, capable man we have as President…he can only do so much. It is on us now. We have matured as voters. Sort of like when a child grows up and realizes that a parent can’t solve all of their problems.
Now,don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It means that the disenfranchised, the disrespected, the disfavored.....let’s just say all of those “dissed” by the American political leadership class for many years-- well NOW we realize that we finally have a seat at the table. There has been a change. Not sure how long it will last, but this inauguration signaled a New day.
As evidence of this...both Al Sharpton and Jay Z. were ON THE PLATFORM. They are mainstream now!
But, back to the event itself. First of all, I was so happy to have my fourteen-year-old daughter with me. She was with me in 2009, but as she told me on Monday…”she got it” this time. She also was moved by the ceremony and said she hopes to someday bring her children and grandchildren. She talked about what it would take to be on-stage with the dignitaries…and I told her. Perhaps she will be our third or fourth woman President!
We started the day early (around 6am) at the Catholic University (Brookland) Metro Stop. People were told not to drive because streets near the Capitol were closed. There were a lot of people, but not the SRO crowds of before. We got a seat.
The line to go through security was VERY slow moving but not much complaining. I have to say that all-in-all considering the crowds both times, it is amazing how well-tempered everyone was. No pushing or shoving. I guess I would call it a reverent crowd.
And rightly so. The occasion called for reverence and recognition of what a great country this is. Being in front of our nation’s Capitol...watching the President get sworn in...is a somber and emotional experience. For this reason alone I would recommend everyone try to attend an inauguration if possible.
I felt I was there representing the folk back home. A microcosm of the American public.
Always...someone should be there to represent. To say..”This is how WE do it.”
Memorable moments for me:
- The children’s choirs that serenaded us before the proceedings began. Some of the kids were pretty lively and seemed to really be enjoying themselves. I thought about how great it was for them to be up there looking out on hundreds of thousands of people.
- The crowd's reaction as various politicians and other dignitaries entered. Good and Bad. Yes Ryan and Gingrich were booed (loudly) but you gotta give them credit for showing up. But, also there were the beloved Democratic figures that received loud cheers. John Kerry (we thought of what could have been); The Carters (we talked about all of the good work he has done post-presidency); Nancy Pelosi (we LOVE her….she was beautiful in a red coat…”one tough broad”) Reverend Al got a lot of cheers and we marveled about how he is now mainstream; Everyone awaited the Clintons who were greeted as royalty; (I guess in the Democratic party they are; We talked about “the speech” Bill made at the DNC and how we all hope she runs in 2016.)
- We commented on the women’s outfits (ladies -- don’t pretend you didn’t also). Loved Jill Biden’s ensemble. And Eva Longoria looked sophisticated and elegant;
- For me the guest that spoke the most about this “New American Power Structure” was Jay Z who accompanied his wife Beyonce. I turned to my daughter and said…”it’s a new day baby.”
- The Obama girls were darling as usual and everyone discussed how much they've grown. Mrs. Obama received an extended ovation…but we were there for one person…our President.
- The ceremony itself contained so much symbolism and the feeling of bringing the past to the future. MLK Jr. was all over that ceremony. (We felt him. His Bible and Lincoln's Bible were used during the swearing in.) Having the wife of Medgar Evers deliver the invocation again reminded us of those who gave their lives so that we can vote and have basic American rights. I had to explain to my daughter who she is and who her husband was. (I made a mental note to myself to spend a little more time with African-American history with my children).
- The ceremony reflected our diversity. I know my Latino friends were happy with Sonia Sotomayor administering the oath to Biden, and the young poet Blanco; although to be honest the poem didn’t play too well in my crowd. Some of the young college students around me thought it was too long, too simple, and not well delivered. The writer in me thought the same, however I was very proud to see the young man up there.
- The singers were outstanding. Kelly Clarkson sounded more soulful than ever. James Taylor was good, although we wished he would have sang “How Sweet it Is to Be Loved by You.” (Now THAT would have been a moment. Like at the DNC.) And regarding the beautiful Beyonce...from the beginning I assumed she would not sing live. The National Anthem is reportedly a hard song to sing and has been flubbed by many famous singers, from Aretha Franklin to Christina Aguilera. And given the emotion of singing it, especially in this setting...I do not blame her one bit. (I believe Whitney Houston did the same thing when she delivered her infamous version. The other reason for the studio recording (probably the main reason) is that the song is quickly ready for distribution as a single.)
All-in-all there were a lot of tears and I do believe that the recognition that it really is “Our Government” sunk in. Several of us held hands during the swearing in…and of course we roared with approval during his speech.
This was an American event! Different from 2009, yet better. In 2009, we thought the onus was on him to change the world. Now we know....WE did it…”We the People” elected Barack Obama to represent us... However, NOW the onus is on us. We are rolling up our sleeves.