Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Spirit in Washington: Inauguration

America made history on January 20th, 2009. I was a part of history. I will be able to one day to look back and tell the story of where I was the day that the first black man was made president. Though this sound cliché’, these words were amongst many quoted and described by myself and other visiting universal citizens from across the globe that quickly filled the streets of Washington D.C.

The cold morning of waiting for the Green line Metro in Greenbelt Maryland started the morning of inauguration at about a windy 18 degrees. The line of patron reached half a mile to the back fence of the metro station. SheRee Johnson, my best friend, also from the Central Valley and me attended this historical event together.

Standing in line for over an hour and a half seemed like no time as we talked and fellowshipped with other visiting patrons. I was surprised to see people openly communicating with each other. I also was touched by the stories that I heard. D.C. reportedly had no arrest. That shows that what I am saying about the sense of family and peace promoted by President Obama was a valued ethic during the inauguration events. As each person openly stated on the train where they were from, and how cold the weather was or how they didn’t care that they took an unpaid day off work or even an AWOL was well worth attending this almost unbelievable day.

By the time I arrived to the National Mall, it was 8:15 a.m. The streets were full, and the air was almost unbearable. I recall wearing three pairs of thermal pants and a pair of jeans, four tops, a trench pea coat and a scarf. The weather was nothing to play with. There were people everywhere. I even saw people within the entertainment industry freely walking the streets of D.C. A statement that the Obama family was the celebrities of this event. I mean this was the most people I seen in my life at one event. I approached the capitol from the behind, with hopes of getting a good spot in front. But s authorities informed us the Mall had been closed well before 7 a.m. being that it was over capacity.

We traveled by foot 1.5 miles around the large crowds and finally reached the Metro Center Metro Station and traveled to a more urban neighborhood in D.C, known as U St. Which is also home to Ben’s Chilli Bowl, where Obama ate just 5 days prior to our arrival. Entering the door of the historic Busboys and Poets Bookstore/Restaurant we were met with hellos and tear filled eyes as the Clintons approached the seating area on the television screen and the ceremony came to a start.

We made friends, exchanged numbers, made toast and even cried with strangers as our first African American President was inaugurated. A feeling of equality can describe what I felt after the intense words of Obama’s speech. I felt no race, no color, no gender and others in the room felt the same way. As the tissues passed and champagne filled glasses everyone basked in the ambiance of hugs and on the spot utterance of their feelings after reality had set in.

I was in fact overjoyed that I was able to experience this historical moment. After being exhausted from the large crowds and heavy walking I retired as the rest of the world partied…………….to be continued.

Leonard Smith
Bowie State University '09
Hometown: Lemoore, CA

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