I spent four days in Washington, D.C. over Inauguration. As a writer for more than 25 years, I’m humbled to put into words all that I experienced but I’ll try a few...timeless, unforgettable, amazing, energizing, euphoric, soulful, affirming, once-in-a-lifetime?
It's taken a few days for my body, mind, and soul to recover. I’ve decided to tell this story with pictures.
This is a photo at the big outdoor concert at the Jefferson Memorial the Saturday before the inauguration. You’ll see a famous guy in the middle and a “Peace” flag too. We arrived late and were about ½ mile from the stage. Hundreds of thousands watched on the Jumbotrons. People of all ages sang, laughed, and grooved to the tunes. We also listened to actors and actresses give us a virtual history tour. It was incredible to be in a crowd who recognized everyone from The Boss to Stevie Wonder, Usher, and Shakira to Garth Brooks, Pete Seeger, and Beyonce.
This photo was taken outside the Kennedy Center where thousands of people queued up for more than 6 hours to see Aretha Franklin. Some mouths are open because our photographer asked us to say “Obama.” The people in this photo are from Boston, New Hampshire, DC, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and New York City (by way of Nigeria). The conversations we had were fun, profound, and playful. The concert itself was very disappointing but no matter; we had a great time!
And from Inauguration Day itself...walking up the escalators from the Metro.
On the National Mall...we were about ¾ mile away...yet again a Jumbotron provided our “up close experience.” It was very cold...about 10 degrees F...but we stayed warm with the massive crowd, singing songs, and dancing. Everyone was amazingly well behaved. "Ecstatic" doesn't do justice to the energy. The anticipation for the "main event" was palpable.
Here I am with some of my closest friends on the planet.
Barack’s final words before his Inauguration Speech...”So help me God.”
So, what did I take away from being packed in with millions of people at the Inauguration? Hope, change, optimism, commitment to community, and the prime importance of core values.
With Barack Obama’s words from the Inauguration Speech echoing in my brain and reverberating in my heart, I will be traveling to New Orleans in February for a weeklong service mission, rebuilding homes that were devastated by Katrina. By working together, remaining committed to our core values, and doing service for others, we will not only endure the current crisis but emerge from it stronger in every way.