Apolitical is how I would describe my lack of engagement until a decade ago, when I finally registered to vote after many election cycles had passed since I was age-eligible. An invitation from a politically savvy friend to go to the inauguration provided a chance to participate in a moment of history, meet people from around the world (I was to learn after getting there), and the opportunity to capture photographic images. It proved to be a fascinating experience that will always be an important memory.
Seal: erected temporary seating for inauguration
My friend is an educator and had previously been to inaugurations, and had a friend who had been to a few before, and offered his place in Virginia where we could camp out during our stay there. It was great to be with people who knew their way around DC and learn how to navigate the wonderful Metro subway. It is an amazing transportation system to get everywhere and the people who work for Metro, especially during the inauguration with a multitude of visitors pouring in from all corners of the world are to be commended for their courtesy. I found the people in DC very giving of directions in finding places to eat, and which could be a quick route or the more scenic route depending on one’s available time.
The Willard Hotel is breathtaking and worth a look inside
On inauguration day, the three of us were up and out the door at 4:45 am to get to the Metro station in Virginia and board with others who were already waiting for the 5:00 am, first train. I spoke with a woman who was from North Carolina who said she could not forgive herself if she did not travel the distance to be present for the inauguration. I loved listening to her talk with a soft Southern accent much like how my new friend in Virginia spoke. It was only one day earlier at a Sunday open market, where I heard accents from two Australians, a father and son, who we gave passes to as one of the people who was to fly out and join us came down with a horrible cold. They were pleased to have extra inauguration passes so they could get a close up view. The son had written a paper in college which won him the trip.
Australians who knew a lot about American politics
It was quite a bit colder in DC for the Australians as this is their warm season, but was relatively mild compared to the inauguration four years before, as told to me by my friend who I traveled with this time from Portland, Oregon. We were prepared for the weather. I had gloves and wore a full length, lined, and hooded coat and was warm all day. It was hard not to be with the body heat of people who you stood by for five hours, elbow-to-elbow, shoulder-to-shoulder from Atlanta, Georgia and KU in Lawrence, Kansas. The ground where we stood had bark on it and we tromped down grooves for each foot. No beverages were allowed, not even water, but I was glad I brought a Clif® Bar and a couple of ounces of dried fruit.
All drinks left behind
The section where we got passes was just behind the railing and just behind the seating. We had a view of the red arch where each of the speakers and singers presented their part of the event. There are a lot of pictures that will show the inauguration in its glory, but mine show people in the scene, and the close proximity where ordinary individuals could position themselves to view the happenings. Nobody, not even a nearby ten year old, complained about anything. The exception was about a guy who had climbed up in a tree with a sign that supported his position on a divisive issue and ranted about it during the entire program. He was so high up in the branches that a ladder brought by officials and propped against the tree could not reach him. He was arrested at the end of the inauguration when he descended his perch.
Camera stretched to screen to capture Obama speaking
Many people had stood in line starting at 4:30 am that morning to get an advantageous viewing position even though we were not let in to the security areas until 7 am. It was there I downed my half bottle of water, had my purse and camera checked, and merged with the crowd while trying to keep my friends in sight. The people moved quickly but did not push and shove. It was just as amazing how considerate everyone was when it was over and we moved again as a wall of people to exit the crowded grounds.
Amazing spirit after the inspiring speeches and music ended
The days before, during, and after the inauguration will remain a part of my history as an American who came reluctantly to a point of involvement and am glad I made the decision to do so. It is my hope that what I have written and the images I share will be a source of inspiration to motivate the reader to get involved in the process because without each of you – how can we have hope for the future? The next four years as President Obama and the lovely Michelle Obama work to make the desired improvements here will be appreciated by all who took the time to vote and contribute to the democratic process.
The young people are the next generation decision makers
The button man — one button $3 including picture
You can reproduce the photographs with a notation of my name. D.L. Livingston