On January 20th, the day after we celebrated Martin Luther King and his dream, the world watched Barak Obama, the first African-American step up and be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. For many, a dream come true and I was there.
The morning started off with a train ride from Baltimore to Union Station. Bundled up for the cold day and the anticipated long walk, I hit the pavement. It was about 20 something degrees outside and the clouds were doing their best to keep the sun at bay. A sea of people flowed out into the streets looking for their entrance to the festivities as vendors sold Obama Memorabilia.
The lines to get into each section reminded me of the lines to ride Dueling Dragons at Universal Studios as they wrapped around and down the streets. Stopping to ask officers for directions to gain access since I didn’t have a ticket to get in the front sections, I was directed to the general entrance to the mall. A distance of about 2 miles is what I had to walk in order to get around to 14th and Independence.
There were people from all over who spoke many different languages. Friends of mine from the UK were texting me about their Obama celebrations. One girl from Brasil was talking about how there were parties all over São Paulo celebrating the event. But what was really impressive and really added to this historic event for me were the number of people I saw making the walk using canes, walkers, and wheel chairs. Great Grandparents and Grandparents out in the cold, one foot after the other, making their way to witness history. When I asked a few how they felt, many, all they could do was smile and push on.
Finally climbed over a barricade and wormed my way through the crowd. Tight as can be, there was a time where I was not supporting my own body weight. People climbed on top of the port-a-potties and up in the trees to get a better view of the jumbo-tron on the lawn. Between sending text messages to twitter, I watched the live broadcast on VCast. The energy of the crowd was high and positive until the cameras showed the Bush family. It was wild to hear the crowd “Booo!” the WHOLE Bush family. Mom, Kids, no one was safe from this crowd. You couldn’t help but join in as the crowd sang “Na na na na! Hey hey hey! Goodbye!” One amazing moment, aside from 2 million plus people being so quiet you could hear a pin drop during the prayer was hearing what sounded like every last person in attendance saying the Lord’s Prayer.
As the Biden family and the Obama family came out, the crowed erupted. The cheering rivaled any sporting event on the face of the Earth. This is the moment of truth, the moment that we all came to see and be a part of, the swearing in of Barak Obama as the new Commander and Chief! I stood next to Mrs. Parker from Detroit, Michigan. She was around the same age as my Grandmother. Bundled up and glowing, she didn’t stop smiling the whole time even when tears rolled down her cheeks as Barak was being sworn in.
For her, and many others, she never thought she’d see the day when a Black man would become President. To hear them talk about the marches and various protests for our rights and to be treated as equals and then to stand in the bitter cold to witness this. It was a proud moment for her. It was a proud moment for us as Americans. It was a proud moment for the world. It was a humbling experience for me and I felt honored to be there.