Our Day did come in Washington, DC!
The odyssey began Monday morning when we woke up to find six more freakin’ inches of snow on the ground. After cleaning up the snow on the ground, and taking Homer the Beagle to Doggie Day Care we headed to South Station for what I knew would be a great trip and a long day Tuesday. On the train down I kept in touch with my friend Dave who was texting me on the Bruins losing to the Blues in a shootout, despite having a two goal lead in the third period…not good B’s. We stayed at in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and rented a car. This turned out to be a very good idea. We had already researched what we would do as far as getting into DC. We would drive from Baltimore to one of the outlying Metro stops and take the Metro into the Capital area. This was quite the experience. Paul put in the GPS three different Metro stops that we could get to just in case the parking was non-existent at one of the others. I initially said that we would leave the hotel around 5:30a and he said we should leave earlier than that. I said 5:30 would be fine…he said in that voice, OK. After getting to sleep and then hearing lots of noise outside our room at 2:48 from several groups up and getting ready to board their buses for DC, I thought again about what time we should leave…and crawled out of bed at 3:25 and took a shower and got ready to leave. Paul got up after me and did the same. We left the hotel at 4am and headed for Beltsville Station. No problems on the road until we get about 2 miles from the station exit and traffic came to screeching halt, except the left lanes. So we figured it was a safer bet to continue forward and go to New Carrollton Station. Bingo. We were in the station parking lot within five minutes and ready to get on the train. One problem, as we entered the station at 5am, we bought our Obama Tickets and then headed into what we initially thought was a small line. HA! We went up the escalator leading OUT of the station, down the parking lot about a half mile and then back the other way into the station to get a train. It was very orderly and people were all laughing about it in the 17 degree warmth and at 5:50a, we were on a train heading into the Capital. Once at Capital South station, it was a bit of chaos as everyone wanted get out at the same time but the Metro police and employees made sure everyone got out and onto the escalators and out onto the streets of Washington. So, we found a bathroom to use and some coffee and we made our way to the National Mall. Although very cold and pretty excited, it was just barely after 6am and the festivities wouldn’t begin until about 10am and swearing in at Noon. We then found a tent just outside the Mall that was selling hot dogs and hot chocolate. Paul and I each had one and that was the extent of our nourishment for the rest of the day in DC. Not really a bad idea since once back on the Mall, getting to and from anything more than an inch from where you were standing was virtually impossible. There was also another street vendor that was not quite ready for prime time but was selling “Barack-wurst”. We would have tried it had they been ready. On cold feet we settled in with a couple million of our closest friends and began the long wait. We were a few hundred yards from one of the Jumbotron TV screens so we could watch the festivities which began at 9am as they should the concert from Sunday night. Since I had not seen that, it took some of the time away. At 10am, the Dignitary introductions began with the Military bands playing. The House of Representatives, Senators, Former Presidents and First Ladies and a lot of other people that we don’t know. And of course all the rock stars and celebrities, including the greatest of them all, Muhammad Ali. The announcer was introducing everyone that mattered in Washington and he also had the best line of the day as he told everyone to “Please Be Seated”. Needless to say that brought quite the joyful cheer from the masses on the Mall. There was the video of all that came through the Capital, up the stairs and down the stairs, cheers, respectful applause, and boos for Bush 43 including the chanting made famous by those hated Montreal Canadien Fans from the song by Steam, “Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye. But from the time Barack Obama came into view inside the Capital on his way up and down those steps, every time his picture was on the screen, the throng screamed and yelled. All day there were spontaneous chants of rock star encore quality. “Obama! Obama! Obama! And when the moments away from being President, and Barack Obama made his entrance onto the Capital Stage, the massive crowd on the National Mall went crazy. Just before noon, Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in and you could feel the anticipation growing as he wasn’t the main event. Then Representative Diane Feinstein came to the podium as one of the directors of the Inauguration Committee and introduced us to our Chief Justice of the United States, The Honorable John Roberts who was to administer the Presidential Oath of office to our 44th President. As Barack Obama stepped to the Podium, it was truly amazing how so many people in a group of an estimated two million, could be so quiet as we all heard how the Bush appointed Chief Justice screwed up the words to the Oath and unsuccessfully tried to regain control of the swearing in. He did manage to get the last few words correct and swear in our 44th and First Black President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. For the third time in less than six months, it was again as emotional for me as it was when he won the nomination and the election. I kept thinking of my mom and grandmother and just how they would be taking all this in. I wish I was more literary and could really describe how I felt. Just an overwhelming feeling of pride, exhilaration, calming and unbelievable joy. I remember a great many people slightly older than me that said they remember being at Dr. King’s march on Washington in ’68, I think I know a bit about how they felt. Not as much as they did because of our country’s history back then. But I do know now, what that March meant! I don’t know what kind of President Barack Obama will be, but let’s join with him and support him and let our country become United as it was a decade ago. -Ric Duarte-Diehard