Tuesday, January 20, 2009

End of Inauguration Day Observations

Here are some end of Inauguration Day observations in no real order:

- After watching CNN and hearing Obama saying "So Help Me God" at the end of his oath on TV, I realize that it was so very much more powerful hearing it in person standing on the National Mall.

- Joe Biden has a huge, powerful voice. His tone was forceful in his oath. To boot, I think he was swearing in with his hand on a stack of encyclopedias - did you see that book!?

- Even though we must have been a half mile from the Capitol, I think we could see Aretha Franklin's big, bow hat with the naked eye.

- Rick Warren's invocation was good.

- After Obama took the oath, we stared into the crowd. People were hugging, slapping hands, praising God, crying, cheering, waving flags.

- I talked to a man from London who told me that today, we are seeing a man who in our lifetime will be the one who could be called the ruler of the world. That was intense.

- Metro's capacity is 120,000 riders an hour. By 11 a.m., an hour before Obama's swearing-in, it was reported Metro had already moved more than a half-million people.

- I am glad I do not have a weak bladder, because my acute sense of smell could not handle standing in one of the 1,000+ port-o-johns too many times.

- Rigby and Erik playing football on the National Mall on Inauguration Day. Priceless.

- Glad we did not have tickets to the seated areas, we talked to some that could not get near the entrances to even get in. Besides, with the kids we could not have gotten in with backpacks anyways.

- The Obamas' last inaugural ball will be around 3:30 a.m. - wonder what time he will be up in the morning? The world will expect him to be up and ready.

- We thanked almost every security person that we made eye contact with. They busted their asses and some of them were working 48 hour shifts. The security effort involved the Secret Service, 8,000 police officers from the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions, 10,000 National Guard troops, about 1,000 FBI personnel, and hundreds of others from Homeland Security, the National Park Service and U.S. Capitol Police.

- The Metro did great considering what was going on. Workers at the top of the escalators were smiling and yelling "good morning" as people exited the Metro. When we were boarding in the afternoon, they were yelling, "You made it." Kudos to them for keeping our spirits up.

- This is the largest crowd by far, as some are estimating at almost 2 million. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan's inauguration drew about 500,000 people, and President Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration drew about 800,000 people. The park service says Congress ordered it to stop doing crowd counts in 1997 after the agency was accused of underestimating numbers for the 1995 Million Man March.

- We met people from DC, Maryland, Colorado, California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Hawaii, Georgia, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and Florida.

- It would be hard to believe that past inaugurations featured so many people wearing merchandise with Obama's likeness. There were vendors on most street corners selling gear.

- The companies that make hand and feet warmers need to get busy making more. We used Hot Hands - made of iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite. We bought six packs for about $2. They were being sold for $5 a piece on the street.

- There was so much fur! Regular fur coats, body-length fur coats, fur hats (see Jay-Z), fur scarfs, etc. No one from PETA around today.

- People know Chattanooga. Whether they knew what our UTC shirts meant or if they asked where we were from, almost all of them knew of the city and the ones who had visited said glowing words about her. Some made note that Chattanooga was a city that knew how to market itself.

- Someone gets a medal for cleaning up the trash on the Mall. Talk about getting jobs started now. We could barely get off the Mall before trash pickup began. Make it known to my green friends and hiker friends that we packed our trash out. You will see in some of our pictures soon that such was not the case with most. Trash was lined all along the streets.

- There are 13 McDonald's within 5 miles of our hotel, so says the Garmin.

- Did not have tickets to any balls, but hanging at the hotel with the kids and watching CNN and the local DC channels is a good time.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. and a great crowd of witnesses are shouting in heaven. I think Tupac is up there with him.

- Finally, we love the fact that our kids did not realize the first black man took the office of President today. It was just a man to them. To us, it is something so very real now. To our kids, they just know that Barack Obama is our President.

God bless us all. What a day. I wish my friends and family were here with us, but I hope they got closer to the event through our blog today.

And our day comes to a close. Good night!

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