Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Day Pilgrimage: Part II (Continued)

Mark, Dean, and I walked around the campus of George Washington Univ. (GWU), searching for a place for lunch.  We were on "cloud 9" after watching the inauguration, surprised that we got onto the mall so easily, the great view of the jumbo-tron television, the incredible sense of "good vibrations" from so many people: young and old, rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight. Flags were everywhere, along with Obama buttons, scarves, and hats...even a coat with an image of Obama on it in silver sequins.

After a great lunch at Country Cupboard, and coffee, we were amazed at all the people strolling the streets, avenues, and boulevards.  1.9 million people were there and were now spread among the streets.  We were not allowed down certain streets, and motorcades were already taking people hither and yon.  Buses blocked some streets, along with armed guards.  But even with a chill in the air, there were smiles most everywhere.

I took a photo down Penn. Ave., toward the White House, seeing white tents at the end of the street.  Mark and I knew the White House was located down the street.  With coffee in hand, we strolled down the street and came upon lines of people waiting at both ends of the street before a white tent, where Secret Service were vetting people to go to the parade route.  I suggested we get in line, Mark asked if the line was for getting into the area of the parade, "yes" was the answer, and we waited in line for 30 minutes, creeping slowly toward the tent.  We didn't have a ticket.  We simply inched up.  Volunteers told us there was a chance we would get in.  We waited.  The three of us, along with a young girl, were at the head of the line when a Secret Service agent stopped us and said, "It is full.  You can go."  My mouth hung wide open.  So close!  Yet so far away.  But then, seeing a group of children behind us, he said, "Oh, children, well, let this small group in," and soon we were being screened by Secret Service personnel.

We got into the parade route!

We got bleacher seats next to the Presidential Review stand!

We got seats right in front of the White House, three rows from the barricade, across from the Blair House.

We were amazed!

Soon the announcer remarked that the President and First Lady were just up the street and they had just gotten out of the car, "The Beast," the new Cadillac with thicker plates of armor, etc.

After the motorcycles, the honor guard, and the marching bands, there they were!  Barack and Michelle walked only a few yards from us, waving AT US!  Amazing!  

They were followed by Joe and Jill Biden, with Joe dancing down the road.  One young woman fumbled getting her camera together and Joe stopped, posed, she took the picture, her life ever changed.


Buen Camino!


Part III coming...