Today was truly unbelievable. A sea of people like I've never seen, let alone been part of. We couldn't get cell signals out, so we're now back in Maryland after a very exciting day trying to update everyone on our adventure. We started at 5:30am and took the Metro (shoulder to shoulder by the time we arrived) into Union Station. After walking to the gate (just a few blocks) to our ticket entrance, we waited and waited and waited, stuck in the crowd that extended side to side of the block and was several blocks long. Finally, we decided to walk back over to Union Station (we weren't moving or going anywhere) and then we wrapped our way back around to the entrance, this time in a different location.
By this time, we'd stood in lines for hours and were more than anxious to get inside security checkpoints. Security was slow but once we got past the initial gates, we moved quickly into our standing area on the west side of the Capitol. The view wasn't the greatest even though we were quite close - it was, though, the moment and the history of the moment that mattered.
People chanted "Obama," and we joined in. There were loud cheers and obvious joy throughout the crowd as he took the oath of office and curiously, folks listened intently, quietly even, to his speech. We were cold, very cold, but the sense of excitement, kinship and unity in the crowd brought a level of comfort that the weather simply refused to supply.
Yes, the experience of a lifetime. History in the making. I recall President Reagan's first inauguration as being much more subdued than this. It was certainly easier for me to get to that celebration, as I was a Senate staff member at the time and merely walked across the street -- I'm sure I took that for granted. Today was an effort, a real effort, but one well worth the discomfort. And today had a different feel -- a sense of anticipation, excitement, inclusion, unity ... that seemed different.
We loved being there. We loved the atmosphere, the history, the joy. We have our "I was there" t-shirts and we'll be saving our tickets. We have commemorative newspapers and inserts. We have pins. But mostly we have memories of something very special -- something we will remember a lifetime.