Alexa Kutler ’11 has uploaded some great photos from the Inauguration.
Well, my adventure here is just about over. Tomorrow morning I hop on the train to Philly to get a slightly late start on classes.
This evening we had a gala at the Air and Space Museum. This was not one of the official galas, so Obama did not come. However, he did stop by my hotel because the Youth Gala was happening there. Unfortunately, I did not have tickets to that one, nor did I see the president in person.
I’m looking forward to getting back to a setting that is quite a few people short of three million people. You can check out satellite photos of the crowds on the National Mall. The things that look like ants are swarms of people. Visit http://www.buzzfeed.com/scott/the-inauguration-from-space (thank you Fran, for the link!).
Well, many thanks for taking some time to come along to DC with me, virtually. See you around campus!
Today’s fun blog challenge is to guess how many layers I wore today. Answer comes at the end of the column. Sadly, there is no prize, except perhaps pride in your guessing skills.
It isn’t even dinner time and already it’s been a long day. As I said before, I was ready to leave the hotel at 2:30. I ended up leaving closer to 3 a.m. because one of my walking buddies overslept. I walked (a long way) downtown to the national mall. It was a very surreal experience, approaching the Capital in the dark with a bunch of other people already there. Some camped out the night before, but I’m not that hard core.
When we arrived we found a space about ten feet from the fence separating those with tickets and those without. I was settled just about as close as I could be without a ticket by 5 a.m. However, in that area it got so crowded that I needed to find a different spot. Whether it was all the excitement or maybe not having sufficient sleep or food, I wasn’t feeling too hot. So I followed a line of volunteers to a less crowded section that was nearly as close as my previous place. Moving from one side of the mall to the other took a good thirty minutes because people aren’t too pleased when you ask to squish by them. We had to keep repeating, “We don’t want to take your spot. We just need to get through.” It was touch, but I suppose that’s what happens when there are three million people there. Nearly everywhere (except my second viewing point) was shoulder to shoulder crowded. At some points you feel as if the crowd could hold you up. Despite the overstimulation of constantly fighting through crowds of people, the experience was phenomenal. All of that energy—people singing, dancing, crying—was incredible. The sun came up and everyone’s spirits lifted even higher. On the jumbotrons, the concert from two days ago was repeated.
By 10 a.m. the new festivities began. There were performances by the US Marine Band, San Francisco Boys Chorus, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Senator Diane Feinstein gave the opening remarks, followed by an invocation by Dr. Rick Warren and a song by Aretha Franklin. At this point I started to video tape what I could see through my camera’s zoom or what I could catch on the jumbotron. I have to admit my film isn’t great—everyone in the crowd was constantly moving to keep warm, so a considerable percentage of my film is a study of Washington DC winter headwear. When I couldn’t get a good picture, I tried to capture the sound or scan the crowd. A creepy game to play when recording sound: find the snipers on the roofs of surrounding buildings. I found at least four.
The ceremony involved the entrances of state governors and senators, as well as past presidents and vice presidents. The actual oaths did not take much time. Joe Biden came first, followed by a musical selection by a group including cellist Yo –Yo Ma. When President Obama took the oath of office, I heard some slip of language before the crowd when absolutely crazy. People we handing out flags, so many people were waiving flags and chanting “O-ba-ma” and “Yes we did!” The crowd fell silent for the president’s speech. I was impressed by its straightforward nature. President Obama told us that change was in the works, but it would take time and sacrifice. Everyone around me reacted positively to his speech. The only upset I heard was when President Bush was announced—many people behind me were booing, while others called for more respect as the former president finished his term.
After President Obama took the oath and gave his address, there was a poem by Elizabeth Alexander and a benediction from Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery. The crowd began to disperse as The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters” sang the Star Spangled Banner. As the ceremony finished up, I began walking to try to exit the mall. It was very difficult to tell where we could exit (the pending parade meant many exits and streets were blocked. After about an hour and a half I was out of the mall and hiking up the street. At that point, the area to view the parade was full. Not everyone can view the parade for security reasons. Time and space constraints basically meant that I could have a good seat for either the ceremony or the parade. I chose the ceremony. Thus, I had to watch the parade from indoors. However, I wasn’t too disappointed. By the time I got inside it had been twelve hours since I left the hotel, so I was ready for a break and some time not surrounded by three million people.
Tonight we have our own UPIC Gala at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (with a live band) and the Hirshorn Museum (DJ). I’m excited to dress up, though my feet are not looking forward to uncomfortable shoes after a day of walking around outside.
Blog Challenge Answer: Five layers. Thermals, then under armor, then a sweater, a ski jacket, then longer trench coat on top. Three layers of pants and two layers of socks, hats, and gloves.
My final post will come after the ball. Happy inauguration day, everyone!
So not sure about the reports on the radio or tv, buy let me tell you, while the campaign was ridiculously organized, the inauguration was pretty much like citizen law. Throughout the 3 hour line to get in, we saw a total of 1, count it, 1, volunteer who told us where to go. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to this point, at which point I realized just how scary a man with a gun, partially visible face, and a whole lotta friends really is.
The stuff that dreams are made of. Horrible horrible dreams…
More seriously though, it is interesting to see the little things that every event planner knows and no event attendee ever thinks of. I know Jason McGraw must have to worry about these sorts of things on a daily basis, and for that I am both truly sorry and highly amused (just because it’s Jason)
Oh, and I know that the title is gross, but you’d be amazed by how many news reports in DC were devoted to this topic before inauguration.
While walking down the street I thought to myself how nice it would be as a DC resident if the city were like this every day… Then I stood in line for 2 hrs. and moved 1 block and missed the fact that everything closes at about 8 normally.
However, as cynical as that sounds, the fact that one of my favorite night activities is to drive and walk around the empty monuments, the difference found in the pure mass of humanity converging on one location that normally goes fairly unnoticed but for the infavorable news coverage is actually incredible to see. The inyetrsting thing is the effext that one pwrson can have on roughly 2 million people. I mean the thing is, DC is the exact same place that it was yesterday, considering the exact same issues, and yet the change of player caused what seemed to be the entire nation to rush on the capital in unheard of expectation and exuberance. It really was an incredible sight to see the pure number of people joined in one cause.
NPR’s Larry Abramson, Linda Wertheimer and Juan Williams ’76 weigh in. Abramson reports from the 14th Street Bridge. Wertheimer, who has witnessed many inaugurals in Washington, talks about how this year’s bash compares to others. Williams recalls key people and events leading to the inauguration of the first black U.S. president.