There were hundreds riding the Metro–at 4:00am–there were supporters sleeping overnight outside the gates to get the best “seat” and the closest view. Hundreds of thousands defied the low temperatures, chanting, “Obama, Obama, Obama!” All were part of our historic experience with the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
For the third consecutive inauguration, the Junior Fellows traveled to D.C. to witness the U.S. President being sworn in as “leader of the free world.” We stood outside in the cold for hours with several hundred thousand of our closest strangers to watch history unfold. And while I am sure all of my traveling companions appreciated the historical aspects of the moment, I was the only one in the group who supported President Obama, and it had a particularly special meaning for me.
The event was one of the most memorable of my life. It was my first trip to Washington, DC, and even the temperature hovering near 40 degrees did not stop me from being present to support Obama as he started his second term. President Obama and I not only share many political beliefs, but he has also offered a solution to one of the biggest problems in my life: allowing immigrants the chance to have a work permit, opening new opportunities for me. I am very thankful, and I have been given the opportunity to pursue my dreams.
Compared to the previous Presidential Inauguration in 2009, the Junior Fellows had better “seats” this year. We were fortunate to have Congressman Brady provide tickets to us at the prime location of the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds. Although the proximity to strangers, the pushing of the crowd, and listening to an annoying protester were not experiences I would wish to repeat soon, it was definitely worth having such a close view.
President Obama offered a spirited speech to reward the crowd for braving the elements. The crowd regularly erupted enthusiastically, especially when he forcefully argued for equality on issues such as: pay, marriage, and immigration, among others. And, of course, the crowd loved the music from Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and James Taylor.
Despite the cold, the crowd’s jostling, and the loud protester, it was a great moment, and I feel privileged to have been present at this moment in history.