Thursday, February 21, 2013

Obama's Second Inauguration

I got a golden ticket!  The US Presidential Inauguration Committee allocates tickets to each Congressional office to award to constituents based on a lottery system.  I applied for tickets through each of my Alaska representatives' offices, and was awarded two tickets to Obama's second Inauguration, held on January 21, 2013.  My friend Adrien (also from Alaska) and I attended, braving the cold and the crowds to witness history!

For President Obama's first Inauguration in 2009, I was in Miami, Florida about to depart for my Peace Corps service in Nicaragua.  Wow, how time has gone by!  I remember the excitement and the energy my fellow volunteers and I felt as we boarded the plane to leave the country, with Obama just being sworn in.  We were on a "service high," and ready to work for our country.  Four years later, the excitement has lessened, and my idealism has been tempered by the very real hardship I experienced in Peace Corps.  However, my admiration for President Obama continues and I was very excited to be able to attend the Inauguration.

Here in DC, I live very close to the National Mall and the US Capitol, so thankfully Adrien and I got to skip the horrendous commute.  We got in line at about 8 AM, and quickly went through security (there were airport TSA screeners).  The photo below shows the lines to enter the white tents where the metal detectors were located.  The attendees to this Inauguration estimated to be about half of those in 2009, drawing 1 million people to DC.

The ceremonies started around 11 AM.  Adrien and I were in the "yellow standing area" behind the Capitol reflecting pool.  People brought blankets, picnic food, and plenty of warm clothing because it was very cold!  (Of course, it was also very sunny with blue skies, so on TV, it looked like an amazing day.  I, on the other hand, couldn't feel my hands or feet most of the morning). Obama scarves, hats, gloves, pins, and t-shirts were everywhere.  Some attendees had also been to his Inauguration in 2009; others had traveled from far away to attend for the first time.  During the down time between when we entered the secure area to when the festivities began, we chatted with other people, jumped around to keep warm, and people-watched.  This kid in the photo below even decided to take a nap on the grass while we waited...  I liked his initiative.

The view of the crowds looking behind us toward the Washington Monument
The ceremony did not disappoint.  Although we had to rely on the jumbo TV screens to see exactly what was happening, it was exhilarating to be in the presence of so many amazing leaders and even celebrities.  Obama's speech was inspiring; I especially enjoyed his focus on climate change.

The view of the Capitol from where we stood
After the ceremony ended in the early afternoon, Adrien and I stumbled home through the crowds to take hot baths and nap.  The city was abuzz all evening; I live near the Washington Convention Center where the official Inaugural Ball was held, and all night long I could hear helicopters, sirens, and yelling out in the streets.  ATVs had replaced many vehicles in the streets around my house since traffic was in gridlock, blocking any other way of transporting VIPs and others who needed to get places quickly.  Happy Hours, special Inauguration brunches, and parties were held all over DC throughout the day.  While I spend the rest of Inauguration Day 2013 sleeping, I was content in the fact that I had actually been there that morning and witnessed this historic event.

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