Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration 2009

I just returned from DC this morning, so I am both exhausted and exhilarated, but I had to at least write a couple of sentences about my experience at Barack Obama's inauguration. First of all, just as background, my parents are very active in the Democratic party and I was fortunate enough to attend both of Clinton's inaugurations - swearing in, parade, balls, etc. So I actually do have a medium of comparison here, I promise.

This event was AMAZING. The energy, the enthusiasm, the raw JOY of everyone there was absolutely overwhelming. I've heard reports that anywhere from 1-2 million people showed up in DC for this thing, and you definitely felt the presence of each and every one. The media wasn't kidding when they called this "the people's inauguration." I even spoke to some people who didn't vote for Obama but still felt that the event was too historic to pass up. THAT is unity. And yes, I acknowledge that a part of that was simply racial politics in action, but I also think that's valid: the first African-American president IS a huge event. The fact that he is the son of an immigrant makes it, in my own mind, all the sweeter a victory. This was truly a moment to be proud of the doors we have opened and the obstacles we have overcome, if not wholly than at least in part. At least, that's this Obama fan's opinion!

I had the honor of watching the swearing in from a friend of the family's open house (on TV, but warm next to the fire and sipping a mimosa), and then on to a party on Pennslyvania Ave with a heated balcony overlooking the parade route. Michelle Obama is stunning, and the president has an energy and a charisma that exceeds his persona on speeches and on TV. The crowds of people would literally burst into spontaneous tears and shouting the moment he appeared on the stage/out of the car/on the parade route. People just couldn't help themselves. He is that inspiring.

I got to go to a ball as well, but I have to say that the daytime events eclipsed the nighttime for me. I think part of the fun was being among the crowds, wandering through the streets and drinking in the feeling of being part of history, part of an enduring moment. The ball, while fun and a great excuse to dress up, was really just a ball. I will say this: throughout every event at this inauguration, the running theme was diversity. Not just racial, but also background and age. I saw MANY more young people dressed up for balls on the night of the 20th than I ever remember seeing at Clinton's events, and also more people who told me (while standing in the freezing cold) about the great lengths they had gone to just to secure their place among those going out to celebrate our new president. Again, I really can't describe it - every single person I met -- democrat, republican, or independent -- seemed to be just overwhelmed with hope for whatever comes next.

The slogan for Obama's inauguration was "Renewing America's Promise." I personally thought his inaugural address was a good start. Even more than that, though, I was encouraged by the support and energy I saw among the crowds. Ultimately it's not the president who makes or breaks American policy -- it's the people's belief that change and unity are possible, and our own willingness to make that happen. And with Obama at the helm, I have to say: yes, we can.


  1. Pleaseeeee tell me you got pictures!!!

    Casey and I were glued to the tv.. how cool to actually be there!

  2. Piper! That is amazing! I am green with envy! I also hope you got pics!

  3. JEALOUS!!!! I SO wish I would of been there!!! I watched a lot of it on TV and it was so awe-inspiring! Definitely an amazing energy to be there!

  4. That's amazing! I tried watching it at work but its hard to stream it on a computer. But that's ok. I saw him take the oath and it was awesome! I have to say his voice alone is inspiring; he has a real way to gather crowds and soothe you.

    I second Christy...I hope you got some pictures!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. Oh wow how completely amazing! I watched it on tv, and I am so jealous you were there!

    I'm with them...Pictures??

  6. I am also very jealous! I was watching at home alone and was so moved - especially when they would show the crowds of people waving their flags. I had the computer right beside me and a friend who attended kept us updated via facebook all day.