we began our morning at 5am. well, i did anyways because i was too excited to sleep. the alarm came strolling along at 5:30am and we rushed like mad to get out the door in time to meet the rest of our group in dupont circle proper, as arranged the night before.
the light grew as we walked south towards the mall. with each turn we took, with each block we crossed, the crowd around us steadily grew. groups of people dotted the sidewalks, our voices seeming strange with not a single car or horn or traffic cop to mar them on the blocked off streets of downtown. we decided to take a back route through the GW campus and as we neared the vietnam memorial, the crowd of people suddenly seemed to swell. it was truly like nothing i have ever seen before, you just knew the moments ticking away were a part of something so much bigger and were not to be passed without some sense of reflection and awe.
we took up residence just in front of the washington monument. areas ahead, which were closer to the main event remained open at the time, but the slope upon which the monument rests afforded us a better view than trying to move up would have. and so, directly behind us, sat this behemoth (and maybe inspired be some odd masculine inferiority complex?) monument.
but we had hours to wait out in the cold morning air and we bided our time with snacks we'd brought, hot chocolate from nearby vendors, and much jumping.dancing.bouncing around just to keep our limbs from freezing over. John and i even had our obama cookies (which were delicious), given to us by a friend who, with so many others in the city over the past week, was wishing "happy inauguration!" with exceptional glee.
finally, finally, the guests of honor began to be announced as they took their seats (maybe we'll get up there next time...). I was only a little surprised when Cheney's arrival provoked more boos than Bush's. while i have not a single drop of faith in either of them, boos just didn't seem in line with the message of the day. seriously america, stay classy. this guy with the t-shirt on his head obviously understood this as well, haha.
the oath of office, the beautiful poem which was read, the much anticipated presidential speech flew by. the applause from so many people gathered in one moment thundered across the mall and it was quite clear no one had a single further thought of their icy toes and stiff legs. Never so keenly have i felt history write such bold strokes right before me and never before have I dared to think we might not have only sworn in a new president, but a real Leader.
and so it was. the people slowly (and i mean sloooooowwly) began to spread out away from the mall, back to their homes and hotel rooms. how often, if ever again, will I see such a vast array of humanity gathered together peacefully under the strength of such ideas and hope?
i'm sure the way ahead for the country is going to be long and probably more difficult than we would hope for. But I think we all just may have been a small part of something that I truly hope will be passed on with continued vigor to generations ahead as they continue the constant task of being a better and truer people, despite our many differences.