So this past Tuesday was Inauguration.  I debated going out of town, but eventually got convinced (it wasn't too hard) into staying.  In retrospect: how could I not?  I just had to bear the crowds, the cold, the standing.  It was absolutely worth it. 

It began with a slumber party at our friends' house, where we painted our nails red, white and blue and then woke up early.  We ended up taking a bus quite far down (National Cathedral to Farragut Square) and it wasn't crowded -- which we credited to the hour and the fact that MetroBus is kind of intimidating to tourists.  But not to us! 

So we made it, and made it in and out of Starbucks rather quickly as well.  Yes, we can!  Leah and Olivia are clearly excited:

we make a party in the streets

Here I am on the Mall, apparently holding up the Reflecting Pool:

supporting the reflecting pool

Once we got on the Mall, it was too cold to take off my gloves... (19°) so I texted with my nose! 


The View: Actually quite good, because a lot of people couldn't see the Capitol. :) 

the view!

This photo is me freaking out, as Obama is supposed to be sworn in at noon (it ended up being 12:05).  Only me.

paranoid about the constitution

The actual swearing-in...

swearing in!

Can you see how many people there are?  Also they stretched from building to building on the Mall.  It was... unreal.

lots of folks!

This is Leah and me, excited after the actual swearing-in! 

new president happiness

...and finally:


We sat next to this sign the entire time, and this -- right after the swearing-in -- seemed just so perfect.  All in all, I'm not sure I can really find words to describe this.  It was such a happy crowd, and everyone cheering during the speech -- I cried! -- and the sweet melody of "Simple Gifts," which I associate with American ingenuity and a new birth -- a new birth of freedom, Lincoln would say.  Leah and I smiled during the speech, nudging each other when we sensed a Lincolnian turn of phrase (there were a few) or (in my case) when Gettysburg was mentioned.

I thought the speech was lovely.  I know some have said it was making jabs at the Bush administration, but I don't think that was the point.  At this point, it is about unity, about reclaiming our proud heritage and status as world leader -- not enforcer, but leader towards democracy and all those ideals that we espouse.  I thought it was more a call to service -- a call to abandon the failing ways, admit that some are no longer functioning, and use that intellect to forge a new path forward.  

I think unity is the key word here.  People booed when President Bush was on the screen, which I thought was in poor taste, both in regard to respect for the office, and the calls for unity.  Obama spoke firmly about "unity of purpose over conflict and discord," and I believe that speaks to the heart of the issue.  We need to move forward, united as a common people, embracing what I believe is our birthright of freedom and hope and change.  Hope and change are not just qualities that symbolize Obama, but rather what we know we're capable of.  Josh put it rightly that all candidates run on the platform of change, and this is no different.  The change, however, is not just in government, but in ourselves, and it's that change that we need to embrace. 

There is so much to this speech that I loved, including the winter metaphors, but particularly: 
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
I'm so happy I was there. 

...of course, more photos.

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