Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Wow, what a day!

Wake up 5:50 AM
We serve coffee and outmeal to the 7 people staying at our place. Thankfully the Fire Marshall didn't show (this will be a recurring theme of the day).

Leave house 6:35

Arrive Metro 6:40

Get on first train toward Branch Avenue 6:45

Arrive L'Enfant Plaza 7:00
This is when the problems start. People can move through the exit gates (if all 8 are set for exiting) faster than they can move up the stairs to street level. So, to keep from having people get knocked up the stairs, they only opened the exit gates every few minutes for about 30 seconds. This was smart and would have been even smarter if they communicated what was going on. All we could see (Pilar, Becca, and I) was that we were in a mass of thousands of people, pressed close enough that i didn't need to hold our newsaper, i could just leave it pinned between other people and my jacket. It was an awful feeling to have no idea what was going on and have no motion for 5 minutes at a time as the crowd grew larger and more unruly. Chants of "let us out" were much more commons than anything patriotic. (Again, thankfully the Fire Marshall was absent from the scene. I can't imagine they would have approved)

Exit L'Enfant Plaza 8:00
We next got ourselves to the Silver Ticket line. At that point it was about 4 blocks long. It was totally stangnant and then starter moving at a jogging pace. Again, no communication, but at least this time there was much progress.

Enter The Silver Section ~8:40
I eventually got patted down and let in to our section. We were right by the first jumbotron and about 500 feet from the main show on the Capitol steps. It was pretty slow at first but we had some good space, set down newspapers and set up camp. It was about 22 degrees or so and we were bundled up. Becca and Pilar felt it was time to pass the time in song. We kicked out This Land is Your Land and as we started some mid-late 20s folks from Foggy Bottom joined in as did an older Black lady from Texas and several other nearby people. The older lady had some other suggestions and seemed to know all the lyrics to every song suggested. It turns out she was an elementary school music teacher in Texas.

Innauguration Begins
The actual program was probably seen by just about everyone so I won't get too much into the specifics, just crowd reactions that might not have been clear on TV.
Biggest booing of the day: Lieberman (way more than Bush or Cheney). I found this surprising but am no fan of any of the three myself.
When Bush entered there were lots of boos. Many bursted out with sha-na-na-na sha-na-na-na hey hey hey goodbye. It was sweet and cathartic.
Obama seemed to trip up the swearing in but we later found out that Roberts had actually erred.

To get home we walked to Waterfront Metro and headed for home.

All told, it was a day for the ages. The logistics were terrible. Imagine leaving a baseball game but 50 times worse and 10 times as long. The program, though was worth it. To be part of such a moment was perhaps a once in a lifetime oppurtunity and one we happily accepted. I sincerely hope that this is a real inflection point in American politics. We shall see.


At 1/21/2009 , Blogger Eli said...

Wow, I really lucked out. I got on the Metro at 8:20 at Bethesda and exited at Judiciary Square by 8:40. The metro cars were so empty I could easily find a seat. I got through security (no ticket) by 9:10, having stood on line beside people who'd been waiting for three hours. I'm not sure how that happened. I hung around the Newseum for two hours, caught a glimpse of Obama en route to the Capitol, and then watched the ceremony from a jumbotron on the Mall - as a tiny speck among the shoulder-to-shoulder masses. All very good, though leaving the Mall was difficult. But not bad for a 24-hour-trip to DC.


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