Jan 21, 2009

America’s Biggest Celebration And The Beautiful Sea Of Humanity

I got back last night after a whirlwind 24 hours in Washington DC celebrating with a few million people from around the country and world. Here are some of the highlights:

-The good natured metro employees and thousands of disembarking passengers at Capitol South station in the wee hours of inauguration day chanting back and forth Keep on Moving….Yes We Can! during the half hour it took to get out of the station because of the crowds.

- For me the celebration started at 6:30 a.m. on a cold winter morning in the Port Authority bus terminal. Hundreds of smiling and courteous people lined up at the gate hoping to get a seat on buses that didn’t seem to follow a timetable. Nobody complained. On the bus a couple from Belfast who were journalists interviewed people sitting nearby. One man they spoke to was picking up tickets only to return the same day so that his son who had to work Monday could attend the inauguration. “I figured my grandson would much rather tell his classmates that his dad attended,” he told them. When asked what this day meant to him he said that he never thought a man of his generation would see it. He was 69.

-The man sitting next to me started applauding when we pulled out of the station as did a few others. He booked a hotel last April hoping that Obama would win and saved for months to foot the $1,000 a night bill.

-Being in the audience of BET’s taping of its inaugural special Monday night only a few hours after arriving. I’m on camera a few times but you’ll have to guess who I am if you see it.

-Sharing an incredible 24 hours with my brother and friends. Many thanks to them for making this all possible at the last minute.

Other events of note include the hotel we stayed at hosting the Texas inaugural ball. Security was of the airport variety. Everyone had to go through metal detectors to get in but the security staff was extremely professional and courteous. Everyone was decked out in their black tie best and there were more than a few cowboy hats perched on the heads of tuxedo clad men.

Let us in!
After waiting in line for hours in the cold to get within half a block of the entrance gate I was among the many thousands of ticket holders that didn’t get in. Disappointing, of course. But right now what sticks in my mind the most is the energy of millions full of good will and happiness braving the bitter cold with smiles and the sound of everyone cheering at once. This is what I’ll remember most.

6 comments:

Lola said...

Really was a sea of humanity! Had to settle for watching it on CNN :(

Catherine said...

Certainly an amazing day... a real shame you didn´t get in... but still it must have been one of those memorable experiences of a lifetime... and one of those positive ones in the "Where were you when" genre

Prêt à Voyager said...

love your recap!!! glad you made it too :)

cheers to times ahead!

anne

Final_Transit said...

If I felt overwhelmed seeing this on TV, Wendy I cannot possibly imagine how it would feel like to be there!

Nomadic Matt said...

im insanely jealous. i mean more than i was when u went to the day of the dead. I had to settle for the crappy CNN.com stream that kept freezing!

Wendy said...

Anne,
right back at you! and loved your coverage as well.

Final Transit and Matt,
it was an incredible day and I am still buzzing from it.