WASHINGTON, 4:47 p.m. — The wonderful thing about these massive public events is how it brings so many strangers together to share in one common experience. The people that I met today on the mall certainly demonstrated that, being extremely friendly to everyone, even when smashed against each other in the streets going in and out of the mall.
One individual was particularly interesting: a Mexican born immigrant of over 50 years traveled all the way from Los Angeles to D.C. by bus alone, so that he could celebrate his 72nd birthday on the mall during the inauguration with two million strangers.
Others: two people from different parts of the country who met in Baghdad. One was a military service person, the other, a contractor. Now, more than a year after, they meet back up in D.C. for the inauguration.
Now, the honeymoon is over and the real work begins. Let’s hope that this feeling of unity and optimism persists well into the new administration.
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama will be inaugurated today as the 44th president of the United States. The News is here on the National Mall to live-blog the ceremony.
12:13 p.m. | The Inaugural Prayer said that we are “United by our freedom and justice for all.”
But perhaps more impressive than this unity, is the unity that Barack Obama has already, less than an hour into his presidency, has given over two million people that surround me.
I turned to my friend and I told her that I feel like I know Barack Obama, that he is a friend. It seems, from others’ calling his first name and cheering for Michelle, Malia and Sasha that they feel the same. Tears are flowing and it seems that everyone truly believes the words that our president is saying and the promises that he is making.
12:11 p.m. | Waving flags, screaming people and huge smiles as Obama appeared on the screen. He processes down the hallway with the very confidence that got him elected. An expression of calm, collected excitement is clear on his face as he prepares to be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. Words of awe and cheers of “Oh-ba-ma!” in the crowds.
“There is nothing to say — we’re in a moment of history,” Carmen Chambers ’12 said.
12:05 p.m. | As soon as George W. Bush ’68 was introduced, the crowd surrounding me stooped to the level of kids at a high school basketball game and started singing “na-na-na-na, goodbye.” It makes me question why party politics has made it such that the only way to support one politician is by disrespecting another.
11:14 a.m. | General laughter from the audience when the announcer asked us to “please be seated.” This experience gives a new meaning to the term “standing room only.”
11:00 a.m. | After about a half-hour walk from Georgetown University I have finally arrived at The Mall. We had no trouble entering from the waterfront side which was surprisingly open.
Everyone is bundled to avoid bitter winds. Patrons are lined against the reflecting pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The JumboTron screens will be the only chance that I have of watching the Inauguration. The sea of patriotically-dressed people eagerly awaiting the action is, hopefully, tight enough to provide body heat for the rest of the morning.
“It actually does make me want to cry when I think of all the patriotism and the hope,” Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein ’12 said.
WASHINGTON, 6:22 a.m. — We parked. Finally. It took about 45 minutes of sitting in the parking lot and then another 15 or so to unload the food. We all filed off the bus to grab bagels, fruit, granola bars, chips, cookies and water bottles, stuffing our pockets and cursing the “no bags allowed” rule.
After about two minutes of excited chatter in the parking lot, we got back on the bus. It’s far too cold to be standing out there right now. I’m not really sure what’s going on but apparently there’s a shuttle that’s going to take us closer to the Mall.
Right now I’m just trying to figure out how much time it’s going to take us to get back here later today and how we are going to find our bus among the thousands of identical coaches. Wish me luck.
WASHINGTON, 9:30 p.m. — With under 12 hours to go until the gate of the Capitol ground open to visitors for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the city is getting crowded. Metro trains around the city are nearly full, leading many to wonder how the system will hold up tomorrow.
As one can imagine security around the district is tight. Metro stations, like everything else in the city, are subject to close if the crowds get too large, or for security reasons. If you are traveling to DC tomorrow be prepared to alter your travel plans.
For those lucky enough to have tickets to the inauguration, you may only enter through the gate printed on the ticket. And don’t forget to check the list of banned items.
WASHINGTON, 5:45 p.m. — Connecticut’s congressional delegation hosted a welcome event for visitors to the Capitol in the ornate Caucus room of the Russell Senate Office Building. In attendance was the entire delegation and leaders from throughout the state, including New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
NEW HAVEN, 4:14 p.m. — Economizing has never been so important. As the esteemed YDN news editor Zack Abrahamson told me, “Prepare for this as if you’re going into a war zone.” With a predicted high of 32 degrees Fahrenheit and no backpacks allowed in many areas of the city, I will have to find a way to carry all of my essentials on my person. I’ll be wearing about four layers. I will be away from campus for just under 36 hours. Yet somehow, I will observe, report, and write a story with just a notepad and a low-tech cell phone. (My parents laughed when I asked for an iPhone for Christmas.) I’m both nervous and excited to see what obstacles I will encounter.
In the next few hours, as George W. Bush ’68 spends his last evening in the White House, I will eat a final dining hall meal (my swipes for tomorrow have been used to buy food for the AASA bus), attend a cappella rehearsal and make the trek across campus to the bus as I head into what promises to be an interesting day and a half.
WASHINGTON, 12:52 p.m. — At the Capitol, hundreds are lining up outside of congressional office buildings to pick up tickets to tomorrow’s inauguration. According to a Capitol police officer who declined to be named, the process appears to be going smoothly. More on the atmosphere here soon.
WASHINGTON, 1:00 a.m. — Tom Hanks’ invocation of Lincoln, Tiger Woods’ tribute to the military and Forest Whitaker’s appraisal of the American artist all drew polite applause in comparison to the wild cheers that met Jamie Foxx’s impression of President-elect Obama’s victory speech. Yet, this paled in comparison to the wild jubilation given to Obama himself.
Yesterday afternoon, 37 renowned celebrities, 12,000 portable restrooms, and an estimated 400,000 Americans from all over the country attended “We Are One,” the official opening ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.
The two-hour event, held at the Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall here in Washington, was broadcast live by HBO and included performers such as Bruce Springsteen, U2 and the Black Eyed Peas. President-elect Obama, Vice-President-elect Joe Biden and their respective families were also in attendance, creating a cornucopia of stardom that drove the crowd into a frenzy and made the Washington cold a little more bearable.
NEW HAVEN, 11:50 p.m. — With all of the excitement and patriotism surrounding the inauguration events in the U.S., it’s easy to forget about the rest of the world. But, in fact, the events leading up to and concluding in the inauguration of America’s first black president have a significant impact not only on Americans, but on everyone else too.
This is particularly true for Kenyans, given Obama’s heritage. After spending three weeks in Kenya over winter break, I can say firsthand that Kenya is extremely proud and excited about Obama’s victory. T-shirts, kangas (pieces of printed cloth used as skirts), and countless other trinkets with Obama’s face on them are everywhere.If the souvenirs aren’t enough, the creation of a government holiday on November 6, two days after Obama won, definitely expresses Kenya’s enthusiasm for Obama. (more…)