What would I have given to have joined the million or so Americans in Washington D.C. this past Tuesday! To see the complete joy in everyone's faces, to feel the excitement and energy in the air. A thrilling moment to see and feel history in the making!
Interestingly, the next best thing happened. A personal email made its way to my inbox. It came from a friend of a friend who wrote a beautiful and moving story about what he witnessed that day. And though I was not there to fight the bitter cold with David, I was there with him in spirit, if not for a few minutes while I read his wonderful story.
From: David Parks
Date: Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 19:25
Subject: A few memorable days in DC
Buzz buzz buzz… …slap. Buzz buzz buzz… …slap. It was just before 3:30 this morning that I was finally able to pry myself out of my camped out cocoon here in DC. The nights are well below freezing, reaching a low of 9 degrees F earlier in the week, which made this mornings mere 25ish degrees quite reasonable in comparison. The first subway trains started running at 4am, and parking opened at 3:30am. My arrival at 3:45 should have been a quiet one, or so I had assumed. When I arrived the parking lot at the metro, just about half way between downtown and the end of the metro line, was 1/3rd full. I doubt anyone arriving after 4:30am would get parking. I stood with many hundreds of people as the first train pass us by completely full. Then, the very next train we broke down due to overcrowding. Literally, it was taken out of service after 5 minutes of failing to get the doors to close behind the crowds. But none of that would dampen anyone's spirits, I've seen rock concerts that couldn't match the enthusiasm of this crowd, a spontaneous chant of Obama, Obama, Obama, not being uncommon.
By the time we got anywhere near the capitol there were at least 100,000 people ahead of us, and a swarm of jubilant faces behind us. There was no light, and there was no warmth, but there wasn't a frown or complaint in the crowd. The final crowd stretched for a distance that takes 30 minutes to cover on foot, or so I heard because I could not see the end for as far as I could view. But waking up at 3:30 was not for nothing. The crowds were cordoned off in sections along the national mall starting from a block in front of the capitol building.
I ended up mid way through the first block open to spectators. You could see our new President and dignitaries when you looked carefully. Huge big screen TV's lined the mall running all the way to the Lincoln memorial over a mile away. What was fascinating was that the microphones were left on during the introduction of the dignitaries so typical conversations could be overheard by the crowd of well over a million people (1.5 million is the estimate I have heard so far). The crowd was a beautiful mix of people, so emblematic of this country, and of the ideals of this new presidency. There were as many different languages spoken as you might find on the streets of San Francisco or New York on any typical day. Religions and non religious, every ethnicity and age, those with walkers and canes, and those still in school. And at the end of the speech complete strangers from all walks of life turned and hugged each other.
I could not sum up the emotions and atmosphere of the crowd better than to say that people are proud to be and to call themselves American once again!
And that was just the finally. The energy here in Washington started on or even before Sunday at the Lincoln memorial. The number and grandeur of the performers on stage that afternoon when Obama first arrived from his train ride into DC left the crowd with bated breath. With every new performer the crowd was amazed to hear the next great name. The performances, speeches, and guided history of our nation, was magnificent. I only wish more people could watch the entire program since HBO hosted it. It was a truly humble presentation. So many high profile performers offered to perform in Obama's honor that most had to perform in duets or trio's, many for the first time, just to fit them all in the program. Others only read great passages from history in what was a lively, but historically pertinent honor and presentation.
And then there was last night at DuPont Circle… Only arriving by chance, the experience here wouldn't have had quite the same character had I not made the stop that evening. It was a "going away" rally for Bush, not put on by any of his supporters. The pictures and video that I will post to facebook and youtube soon will say more than can easily be conveyed in words. Upon entering you are confronted by a 15 ft blowup Bush in full airforce uniform, all around the base are shoes for onlookers to pick up and throw. At times it was dangerous as high heels and boots came bouncing off the blow up Bush, but hanging a pair of strung together shoes around his Pinocchio length nose garnered great cheers from the crowd. Then came a rally "good bye Bush" speech that should be taken on the road as a comedy routine. I will certainly look for links to it on YouTube, hopefully someone was filming it. I only got about 15 minutes before I ran out of memory, but if nothing else, just that short segment will provide much comic relief (with some shaking of the head in a bemused manner).
So those have been the last few days in DC, I suppose I will head on for warmer lands sometime very soon, now that I have seen to it that we have a great new leader who we can be proud to stand behind.
Thanks David for your email. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made proud to be an American.
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