Joe and I were two of over 1 million people who were on the National Mall today for the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, our 44th president! It was an amazing feeling to be down there with all those people, all so supportive of this new president, all there to usher him in in style!
Most of the streets around the Mall were closed, so everyone was walking right down the center of the streets. Vendors were selling coffee, food, handwarmers, and anything and everything with Obama's name and picture plastered on it. (Surprisingly, I didn't buy anything. Mostly because my wallet was buried under 7 layers of clothes.)
We finally made it as far as we could down the Mall. The inauguration was held on the grounds of the Capital Building. We got as far as the west side of the Washington Monument. (We did leave pretty late, though. When most people were downtown by 7:00 a.m., we were just getting out of bed.)
We had no intention of meeting up with Stuart during the speech. There were over a million people in that area and we were arriving from different directions. Weirdly enough, though, when we called him, we were standing about 10 yards apart! So, we were able to experience this piece of history with our friend. :-)
Can you see the jumbotron waaaay back there, past all those people? Yeah, that's as close as we got to seeing Obama sworn in, but we could hear everything, and that was pretty awesome. There was such good energy in that crowd!
Once the inauguration was over, we tried to make our way closer to the Capital Building, but it was just impossible to maneuver through that crowd. So, we followed another crowd of people who were making their way back to the outskirts of the city.
We ended up walking about five miles to get far enough away that we could actually find a place to sit, eat lunch, and warm up a little. It was a cold day. My face has been severely windburned since Sunday night, and today didn't help that at all. After lunch we had to walk some more to find a metro station that was open. Some were closed because of their proximity to the inaugural events, some were closed because too many people were trying to get on the trains. We heard there was one station that was so packed, you couldn't get out onto the street. People were stuck underground because there was literally no place to move outside.
We finally made it back home, though, completely exhausted.
True, we didn't see much, a lot less than those who watched it on TV saw. We didn't see much of the inaugural festivities. We didn't see the parade, or the Obama's getting out of their car and walking the streets of the city. We didn't hear the commentary. But it was worth it - we feel like we got an unprecedented experience that we will never forget.