Sunday, January 25, 2009
My husband and I witnessed history being made standing shoulder to shoulder with millions of others. The hours passed quickly as we left the house in the dark to make a 5:30am train to Washington, DC. We arrived full of excitement as the sun shined brightly on a cold January morning in our nation's capital. Tens of thousands waited at the security gates while we showed our tickets and entered single file. We made our way to our area and began the countdown -- literally, there was a man from St. Louis counting down to the swearing-in.
We made friends, chatted, laughed, discussed facebook updates, and knew that the eyes of the world were upon us as the excitement in the air grew by the minute. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see much given that the huge jumbotron had a big tree right in front of it, but none the less, we weren't any less excited.
And then, it all began....dignitaries were announced and made their way to their appointed seats. The crowd shouted for former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. For a society that values being loud, the power of silence was striking -- not a peep was uttered when George Herbert Walker Bush entered. Some boos, but again, mostly silence for Vice President Cheney. And then Bush entered, silence gave way to boos which gave way to the song -- Na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey good-bye. These words filled the air from behind us, to the left of us and in front of us. And then the chanting started -- O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma. It was incredible, our voices -- young and old, from all over the country and the world, women and men -- joining in unison, sounding like one -- powerful!
President Obama began his speech as the crowd chanted. As he spoke of extending a hand in friendship to those whose fists were clenched, of helping poor nations to "nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds" and reaffirming our nation's spirit, the crowd roared their support. The sense of renewed hope, purpose and responsibility -- to ourselves, to our nation and to the world -- was palpable.
The next thing we knew, we were starting our journey home to tell our daughters all about it! (Our older daughter (7 years old) really wanted to be there and had actually suggested that I take her and that daddy could stay at home with her younger sister!)
The impact of the speech didn't really hit until we got home. It was a somber speech that reflected the seriousness of our time, yet was full of hope and inspiration based on the strength of us as a people.
There seems to be life again in the White House -- from Malia and Sasha, to watching the way President Obama and Michelle danced while watching the parade go by. Who knew that the leader of the free world could seem so down to earth? At the end of the day though, it is important to remember that while government is here to work for us and as President Obama will lead us, we all must be part of the change that this country needs.
And, as the 44th President of the United States said, now the work begins!