WASHINGTON D. C. -- On a very cold Tuesday in January in our nation's capital, I witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th president. It was amazing.
After a long campaign and decisive victory for Mr. Obama, my friend, Angela Stewart, and I requested tickets to the Inauguration from U.S. Congressman Zach Space.
We were thrilled with the news that he would set aside two tickets for us.
On Saturday, Jan. 17, we packed up the car and headed to Washington. I am fortunate enough to have an aunt and uncle who live in Virginia, right outside of D.C., who let us stay with them during our trip. My aunt works downtown and had arranged for us to spend Monday night in her office so that we would already be in the city on the morning of the Inauguration. People were predicting it was going to be very difficult to get into Washington D.C. on Tuesday morning because of the volume of people they were expecting and the fact that so many roads and bridges were shut down.
We woke up at 5 a.m. and when we happened to glance out the window, we saw hundreds of people already in the street! When we finally made it to the line outside our ticket gate, it was 8 a.m.
The line was unbelievably long and we started to worry that we wouldn't get in in time. We had heard that security was going to close the gates at 10:30 and anyone who wasn't inside at that point was not getting in -- ticket or not. That is exactly what happened too. They closed the gates at 10:30 with thousands of people on the other side holding their tickets -- including me and Angela.
At the time, we didn't know what was going on and why the line wasn't moving. We were all crammed together so close you could barely raise your hand up to scratch your nose! Then the line started slowly moving and we passed through the gate (with no security check by the way). All of a sudden, there was an open field in front of us so we linked arms and took off running! (We found out later that the crowd broke through the barrier and stormed into the section our tickets were supposed to get us into!) We ended up standing right behind the Capitol Building's reflecting pool. We were standing right next to a speaker so we could hear everything being said.
When Barack Obama took the oath of office, the crowd erupted. When he was giving his speech, they were silent.
I wish there were words to adequately describe the feeling in the air. People were so happy and excited to be there -- to witness history being made. There were chants of "Obama!" and "Yes We Can!" echoing through the crowd. We were freezing cold and crowded together. We had all been waiting in lines for hours. Yet no one was pushing or shoving.
People would say "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me" when they bumped into you. It was incredible how nice people were. I heard it was reported that there were no arrests made that day.
Millions of people in one relatively small space -- and no one did anything to get arrested for. It seems we were all incredibly grateful that Barack Obama would become our new president and that we had the opportunity to be there and witness it actually happen.
And let me tell you, it was amazing.