America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.
— President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013 —
I am grateful for our president, and I am grateful for my friends. In 2009 I had tickets that put me on the west lawn of the Capitol for President Obama’s first inauguration, and while that was an experience I would not trade for anything, it’s also an experience I would not repeat. It was an incredible opportunity, and it was also miserable – once we found our spots on the lawn to stand in front of the Capitol and watch the ceremony, I was overwhelmed by proximity, by perspective … I was right there. But the three previous hours in sub-freezing temps spent standing stock still in a massive crush of people waiting to get through security, that was a deal breaker. I wasn’t willing to repeat it, even though improvements were said to have been made. I declined lawn tickets this time around and, had we not been hosting our friends from MA and VT (and CO!), I probably would have spent this inauguration having Pajama Time in front of the television. For many reasons I am beyond grateful that our friends were here with us, but mostly because instead of spending the day off at home, I got to witness something spectacular.
On Monday we hopped a bus and headed through the deserted streets of Washington, DC. Destination: Inauguration.
Passed a few advertisements along the way …
And made it down to the Mall around 10 o’clock. The crowds this year were like the crowds in ’09 – bursting with good will and excitement. As we walked through the last barricade onto the Mall, a long line of inauguration volunteers waved and welcomed us, thanked everyone for coming, high fived and fist bumped – the atmosphere made it feel like what I imagine it’s like arriving at an awards show. Everyone was smiling at each other and saying hello and thank you. Like four years ago, it was at once thrilling and bizarre to be in such a large group of people – close to a million, by most estimates – who were all in such a good mood, waving flags, taking pictures, singing, and laughing.
Randa couldn’t stop smiling.
That smile – it was catching!
Here she is getting a closer look.
Posing with M and J.
Blocking Ehrika’s view.
Even during the benediction, she was still all smiles.
It was a good day.