When administrators at Temple University, where I just started my final semester of college, found out I was going to President Obama’s inauguration, they asked me to write something for them. The following piece was featured in Temple Times’ Temple Today.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — I went to the inauguration as a journalist, and while I can’t say for sure, I think if I was pursuing some other profession, I would not have gone.
It almost didn’t happen. I was first denied press credentials on the grounds that The Temple News is too irrelevant to the event. By sheer luck, I obtained credentials from a small media group, but then had them revoked because too many media outlets were already set to flood the National Mall. Amtrak ticket prices for the weekend of the inauguration were astronomical, so I turned to the Chinatown Bus. Three hours, one rest top and a Metro ride later, I made it to Washington, D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, home of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
Monday was a day of preparation for the district. Streets were blocked off, parties were planned, and temporary fences were set up along the sidewalks to create paths for pedestrian traffic. Union Station was thick with tourists forming a line outside McDonald’s just to grab something to eat. The wait for a table at a Capitol Hill restaurant exceeded an hour, and I think hotdog carts received more patrons Monday than they had in all of 2008. There was nothing for me to do but take pictures.
Tuesday saw an early start, and the morning sun only felt warm for about 20 minutes. Not even the millions of people surrounding the historic landmarks could take the bite out of the unforgiving winds of the frozen Potomac River. Armed with four shirts and two pairs of gloves under my winter coat, I stood freezing and shaking as I filmed President Obama’s loyal supporters waving flags and wearing pins and everything else Obama. They didn’t seem to feel the cold. Only when Obama stood to take his oath of office did the crowd stop — in speech and movement. At 12:04 p.m., I took a shaky video of a crowd full of millions of silent, still people.