I haven’t been blogging too much lately – got caught up on Ravelry, Flickr, Twitter, the rest of the internet. A lot has been happening – the holidays, looking for a new job, and regime change here in Washington. And as the subject says, I was there.
A few weeks ago, I signed up to volunteer for Inauguration Day. I knew I wasn’t going to be working, so I figured I might as well get involved and be part of history. So, two days ago, I got up at 4 a.m., put on as many layers as I could manage (two pairs of socks, long underwear, jeans, a wool sweater, a scarf, a cowl, two pairs of gloves, two hats, and a wool coat), got on the Metro and headed to the National Mall. I expected to be on a deserted train – instead, I couldn’t even get a seat. By the time I got to the Mall, people were streaming onto the grounds, heading towards the Capitol. I met up with my volunteer team, amidst the thousands of other “red cap” volunteers scattered around Mall.
The atmosphere all over the Mall was electric. People had come from all over, all bundled up and prepared to wait HOURS just to see Obama sworn in on a Jumbotron a mile from the Capitol. There were crowds and lines and more than a little confusion, but people were just so excited that it didn’t seem to matter. Our fingers and toes were freezing, our ears were numb, but it was a privilege to be there, to be a part of that historic day.
Two hours after I got to the Mall, the sun finally started to rise – it was going to be a gorgeous, clear day, if cold.
Around 8 a.m., the Jumbotrons flared to life, showing the We Are One concert from a few days earlier. The crowd got really excited and sang along and danced to keep warm. While eating my lunch at 8:30 a.m. with my fellow red caps, we listened to Mary J. Blige and Bruce Springsteen and U2 and James Taylor. When Garth Brooks came on singing “Bye bye, Miss American Pie,” the entire crowd sang along.
Groups of people in puffy parkas spontaneously started dancing – the Electric Slide was very popular.
When “Shout” came on, the whole crowd went nuts, dancing and singing and shouting along. It was so much fun (and a great way to warm ourselves up)! A few of my fellow volunteers and I also crossed paths with celebrities, including the Daily Show’s John Oliver, who was in the crowd interviewing people.
When the concert was over, the Jumbotrons showed people arriving at the Capitol for the ceremony, and the whole crowd cheered as people like Ted Kennedy, Al Gore and Puff Daddy were shown. The biggest cheers, of course, were reserved for Obama’s arrival, taking the oath and his speech.
It was an incredible day. At times, I couldn’t believe it was really happening, that we as a country had really made such an intelligent, brave, progressive choice. I was overwhelmed by the emotion, not only my own but that of everyone around me on the Mall. People were crying, screaming, cheering, kissing, hugging, and waving flags with all their might.
Two days later, I still feel incredibly hopeful and excited for what’s to come. Things aren’t great right now, but I believe that we have chosen the best, most intelligent, most compassionate, most thoughtful person to lead us back in the right direction. I will always be glad that I stood in the cold for 8 hours to see him raise his hand and take the oath of office, that I was there on his first day.