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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time and Place: "I was there"

Jan. 20, 2009, 11:51 a.m., at East Capitol and First Streets N.E., Washington, D.C.
  • Jan. 20, 2009, 11:51 a.m., at East Capitol and First Streets N.E., Washington, D.C.

Neither the cold nor the crowds were as bad as people projected. Sure, the lines stretched for city blocks. Yes, the temperature was well below freezing. But, this was history. Frosty fingers and long wait times would not deny me the right to say in my old age "I was there."

I decided on November 4 that I would be in Washington D.C. on January 20. I didn't know how I would get there, where I would stay, or if I could get remotely close to the main action. During the months in between, I begged, borrowed, and dealt my way. By a few days before the inauguration I had hopped in a backseat of a car headed to D.C., commandeered a couch in Georgetown, and found a gleaming golden ticket to one of the closest sections to the capitol. I felt like Charlie in the chocolate factory, or rather in the Chocolate City.

Armored with several layers, I went into the cold on the big day. The trains were crowded but not impossible. I waited in line not too far from Chris Tucker and his mother. Throughout the festivities (and I do mean festivities) you could smell alcohol on the breath of some, reaffirming the sense that this was a college homecoming. When Bush came out, the people closest to the Capitol building sang out "na na naa na, hey hey hey, good bye." Like Obama who would take Bush to task later, we let him know once and for all how we felt, dismissing him to irrelevance.

Looking down the Mall to the Washington Monument, I felt a like a drop in a powerful sea, turning the tide of change and roaring "O-BA-MA!"

(Photo by W. Hassan Marsh)

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