Obama Inauguration Blog

Our Inauguration Adventure Part II
January 25, 2009, 1:37 am
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.


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

It is WONDERFUL to read about your adventure. I am sure when Grayson is much older he’ll be very happy that his mom made him go to DC for this historic event.

Comment by Lisa

Very nice, Amy. Thanks for sharing with us. History can be a beautiful thing. Especially when we choose to paticipate!

Comment by Monty

I have no doubt that the kids will remember this moment…and how much it meant to you, as well as to our country. Thanks so much for writing it down!

Comment by Steph W

thanks amy for letting me read your personal inside tale from outside of the country where it all was happening.

Comment by sylvia

Enjoyed reading your blog, Amy. I really admire you for going and for giving Gray this experience.

Comment by Alice

Amy, I’m delighted to read your account at last! We were thinking so much about you, Kim, Keith, and the boys on that glorious day. I’m so glad you had such a relatively positive experience, and I so admire you guys for making this memorable experience possible for your kids.

Comment by Mary

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