Filed under: My Adventures
The three things I most worried about the day were:
1. Being cold–I hate being cold.
2. Losing my kid in the crowd.
3. Being trampled by the hordes.
I was cold, but I am happy to report that I hung onto my kid, and I did not get trampled, although there were times when it could have easily happened.
We managed to get to the Metro before 7:00am. Parking was easy and getting on was also easy. Exiting at L’Enfant Plaza was very difficult. Once we were on the platform and moving slowly toward the stairs to take us up and out, more people started getting off trains that came after ours. We were trapped in wall to wall people. No way back, no way forward. It took a full hour to exit into the cold air of the DC morning.
We were a party of 6 with three kids and three adults. We had 4 tickets: 3 silver and 1 blue. We had two cell phones and two cameras and we decided to split up to take advantage of our tickets. We picked a meeting spot by the Metro.
Kim took the lone blue ticket and headed for the front of the crowd. I took the three silver tickets and the two older boys–Gray and Mac and headed for the Silver zone at the back. Keith took Ethan and went to the Mall. The goal was to find a place to watch a Jumbo-Tron. No one would be close enough to see it without one. Here was Keith’s view from the Mall:
The boys and I got in very easily. It was crowded and rushed and crazy but there were multiple security checkpoints. They checked my bag and our coats and let us in without checking tickets. I immediatley wished I could call Kim and have her join us instead of letting her watch alone, but she did not have a cell phone. She reported later that it took her two full hours to get into the Blue zone. Others reported a “purple zone fiasco” where ticket holders were ushered into a tunnel and never made it through security. That did not happen to us.
Once we were in we had two hours to kill and keep warm. The sun did come out and the boys quickly discovered that to see a Jumbo-Tron you had to stand near the back of the group so you could see over heads. Contrast this with friends in the purple zone who were so packed in their kids could not see over heads to see the screen. In the back of the silver zone we had plenty of room to move around. When we turned behind us, we saw a sea of flags from the general mall crowd, in front of us also a sea of people.
Here is what it looked like from where we stood:
Safely tucked inside the silver area with security checks in the background:
When the sun came out, I tried to think myself warm. We were standing by a group of African-American school children whose teacher had them pose for a picture by saying everyone’s name one at a time. She would say, “Say Obama.” Then, “Say Michelle.” Then, “Say Malia and Sasha.” It was quite sweet.
When they started broadcasting the arriving dignitaries on the screen, I narrated for the boys explaining who each group was and why people booed at Joe Lieberman and cheered for Ted Kennedy. I showed them my watch and predicted that the oath would happen precisely at noon. Here is a good picture of the zone of Jumbo-Trons–taken by Keith at the back:
We had an unusual auditory experience. We heard speakers in front and behind and at the side of us all in different time. I read the words on the screen to the kids so none of it really synched up.
Many, many words have been written about this moment: hearing this man take the oath of office, watching him and his beautiful family take center stage in this chapter of American history, being a part of a crowd of millions of people who all want to celebrate this historic occaision. There were tears and screaming and cheering. Hugs from strangers. I am not sure if Grayson really understood why I dragged him all the way to DC in the freezing cold to stand around in a crowd and peer at a Jumbo-Tron. I like to picture him someday telling his children that he was part of this historic moment: remembering his crazy mother who wanted him to have a grand memory from this grand time. Whether you voted for him or not, I hope that your remembrances of this moment will carry you forward into hope instead of backwards into hate. I believe a lot of things are possible now that I never would have before.
Here is a picture of our party out on the Mall. (Thanks to Keith!)
Thanks to my old college friend Howard and his wife Ann who live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, we had a warm place to go after the event. We were able to avoid crushing lines to get back on the metro while we watched the parade and all the news coverage from his warm living room. Later as we strolled back to the metro on a beautiful January night, we enjoyed talking about our day and hopped onto the metro which was by then virtually empty and we sailed back to our place for the night. We had made it safely to DC to be a part of one of the greatest moments in US history.
Filed under: My Adventures
I want to start out by saying that probably the most memorable part of the whole event was standing amidst the crowd that was streaming out of the National Mall as the president’s helicoptor flew overhead with George W in it, and the crowd looked up and began cheering and waving and singing “Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Hey, Hey, Hey, Good-bye”. I did not participate in any of the booing in the crowd, but I gleefully waved off the outgoing president.
Yes, Grayson and I and our friends the Vogelsangs braved cold and crowd in order to witness history in person at the Inauguration of Barack Obama the 44th president of the United States. (Have you all heard of this?!)
We arrived at the Capitol on Monday–silly Amy–when I heard our congressman had given us 3 tickets, and that I should pick them up in his office on Monday, I thought, I would just breeze through security and pick them up. What I failed to take into account is that hundreds of other congressmen gave thousands of other people tickets and that security in our nation’s capitol is no small matter (Had you heard this?).
Here is a picture of the line we waited in outside the Rayburn Building to get to the office where our tickets were held:
Note that the line down the side of the picture stretched out and around the building for a block. We waited for two hours to get in to get our tickets and when we got there–oops wrong building. Every other congressional building had the same lines to get in! Well, here is a big secret –all those buildings are connected by secret underground tunnels. Once you make it into one building you can get into them all. This seems like a bit of a security loophole to me, but it was nice to know we did not have to go back into the cold.
We made our way through the tunnels to yet another building where we made it to Congressman Baron Hill’s office. The office party was in full swing, and Kim and I took the opportunity to sit and rest and eat and mingle a bit with our Congressman and his staff. Our tickets were waiting for us and we managed to wrangle a fourth ticket. Unfortunately, the fourth ticket was in a different section than the other three.
Our kids were with Keith at the Air and Space Museum, and we met up with them toward the end of the day where we walked as close as we could get to the seats and the capitol–all decked out for the inauguration. In the waning hours of the day it made for a beautiful picture:
I will blog a bit later about the day of the inauguration, but before I close this first day, I want to note that everyone was on thier best behavior. All two million people seemed to be saying–okay this is crowded but we are all here for the same reason so lets stay cool.
Everywhere we went people were friendly and smiling. We met people from all over the country. One newspaper account said–there were no strangers. I would have to agree with that statement.
There was one particularly crazy time trapped in a crush of people on the metro when you just had to trust that people were not going to go nuts, and they did not. They would erupt into spontaneous chants like “yes we can” and “O-Bam-A” but they kept their cool and joked and smiled. Here is a picture of the crush I referred to: (on the platform below those are wall to wall people.)
We waited in this crowd for an hour before we could get out.