Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Obama Day!!!!

I woke up at 4 a.m., raring to go. My roomie wanted to have breakfast before we made our way downtown so we got dressed and made our way to the hotel restaurant to be there as soon as it opened at 5 a.m.
After breakfast we caught the hotel shuttle to the Foggy Bottom Metro stop. There was a bit of a backup, but it was not too bad. Once on the subway platfor
m two trains that were out of service passed us by. The next train was full, so we waited for the next one. It was also full.

We started talking to a transit policeman who was directing people traffic in the subway. He wanted us to wait for the next shuttle, which he said was immediately behind this one. While we were chatting, two young girls walked right in front of us and tried to get on the train ahead of us. It was like we were completely invisible to them. The cop made them get off again, though.

Interestingly enough, the train we missed stayed stuck in the tunnel for about 10 minutes before it was able to move. Since I have claustrophobia, I have to say I'm very glad we did
n't get on that particular train.

We moved up on the platform to the front and were able to board the next train without problem. We were standing, but at least we were on the train. The train slowly made its way to Capitol Hill.

We were supposed to get off at the Capitol South train stop, but apparently it was closed because it got too crowded. We had to get off the train at L'Enfant Plaza instead. Needless to say all the planning and scoping things out from the day before got tossed out the window.

By the time we got off the train it was 7 a.m. We asked directions to the Silver ticket area and were told to walk toward third street. When we got to third street saw that the Silver Ticket line extended way 
back past the Native American Museum all the way down to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum --- about five blocks!!!

So we made our way back to the end of the line, which for all intents and purposes was about exactly where we got off the train in the first place.

Check-in went smoothly. The line started to move at 8 a.m. and everyone was orderly and moved quickly. They checked our bags and one officer groped by fanny pack like he was adjusting his family jewels. That was really weird.

We moved quickly to try and place ourselves were we had planned. Only there was a fence running down the length of the Silver section and we could only stay to the left of it
. My friend Pat thought that we should move closer to the jumbotron. I wanted to actually see the Capitol and really hoped to get closer. So I suggested we try to cross the street as soon as we could.

The policeman there held up the crowd from crossing because someone neeed to be carried out on a stretcher. So we waited. By and by he let small groups of people cross the street. Once across we got as close as we could to the divider that faced the Capitol grounds. 

We could see it...but there was a huge tree obstructing our view from the right side of the building. We were almost resolved to having to watch the whole thing on the jumbotron when suddenly the gates fell down opening up the Silver section clear down to the reflecting pool.

Immediately I moved to the left to be in clear view of the Capitol. I didn't go down the steps because I thought there would be a better vantage point from the top of the steps, rather than down below by the pool. 

Unfortunately when I moved, I lost my two friends.

Calling them by phone was no help. All cell phone calls were blocked. I was able to call briefly but got disconnected. I tried texting them. In the end, we remained separated for the entire ceremony.

My view was pretty good. I could see three jumbotrons and had a nice view of the Capitol platform.

I remember when we first caught glimpse of the Presidential motorcade as it headed towards the Capitol The crowd
 cheered as soon as they saw it, and the sound became even louder when we could actually see the black SVUs ourselves as they neared the grounds. It was very hard looking through my binoccu
lars, so I elected to watch the jumbotron like everyone else. More cheers for Presidents Clinton and Carter, little for the first President GW. Boos for Chaney. One women behind me said it would be fiiting to sing the classis song by Steam, "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye," when Bush walked on. Interestingly enough, everyone else must have had the same thought because sure enough, people spontaneously erupted singing that v
ery song.

More cheers for Colin Powell. And then there they were. Joe Biden, Jill, Michelle, the girls and the future president. The crowd went crazy. I think it was then I realized I was crying.
More cheering of course, as Biden is sworn in. Then it was time for Yo-Yo Ma, and other m
usicians to perform. Simple Gifts is one of my favorite songs. I use to sing it in choir and wished I could play it as well as it sounded on the mall. Later we would
 learn it was all recorded, but the sweet musice filled the air almost making the wait for 

the moment of truth somewhat tolerable. Then it was time.

You could have heard a pin drop as Obama was sworn in. When the Presidental theme played indicating our new President was indeed, President, there was cheering and crying and shouting and we all hugged one another. Most of all I remember the hugging, there we were, most of us complete strangers, people of all races, ethnicities, genders, colors, political persuasions, all hugging one another like old friends. It was a moment I'll never forget.

You could almost hear a pin drop as Obama delivered his acceptance speech. 

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