Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Chilly Inauguration

(Author's note: if you click on any of the above photo's, they get bigger...)

Obama's speeck was great. Moved me to tears. I loved the poet who spoke after Obama's speech. Loved the benediction. The minister who gave the prayer had the the expression: "beating our tanks into tractors", instead of the oft used "beating swords into plowshares". The "controversial" minister from the megachurch gave an invocation that was more or less ok, in my humble opionion. Very patriarchal and Christian, most of which seemed to be the Lord's Prayer. I don't have anything particulary bad about the Lord's Prayer, but it's been around for a while......So didn't find that particularly moving or controversial. Just boring.

Julia and I had been standing in roughly the same spot for several hourswatching a replay of the Sunday concert from the Lincolm Memorial on the JUMBOTRON, which was fun. We had to rely on the big screen to watch the concert (and the Inauguration) because the Capitol was much too far in the distance.

So, detractors might say that we should have watched the "show" from Julia's comfy living room. But being in the crowd, about 50% African-American, was incredible. The excitement was goose bumpy. Of course, it was cold, too! But the goose bumps were not from the cold. Before Obama was sworn in, there was a seemingly endless procession into the area where all the important people sit, up by the podium behind bullet proof glass. The crowd would cheer for this celebrity or politician as they entered the area. Ophrah got a big cheer. The Clintons got big cheers. "W" got heavily booed. Joe Lieberman also got booed by the crowd. Chency, in a wheel chair, also received as many boos as Bush. I booed Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps booing is inappropriate, especially for a Quaker like myself, but the crowd was full of emotions and some of the booing (and cheering) had to do, certainly, with their feelings about the "leaders" of the past 8 years.

Barack's speech was excellent. He challenged Americans of all colors,creeds, etc to work together to bring out their best. To let the world know that we want to be friends again. Or words to that effect. Much of it I'd heard before on the campaign trail, but this felt different in THIS moment. His voice broke several times.

Concerns: I was happy that he plans to "hand over Iraq to the Iraqi's" but focus on "winning" the war in Afghanistan. The latter ahs always been hard for me to hear coming from him. Like I expected better. But of the many things I don't control, this is one of them. I wondered how Muslims felt hearing this. And I wondered, again, why he said nothing of the invasion of Gaza by Israel. Sigh.

But his speech WAS riveting. During the speech, the crowd of one million plus was silent, with occasional cheering at various points, of course; at the beginning and end as well. I could hear AND feel the crowd's silence and as I glanced around me, it was clear that the silence came not from disappointment of any kind, but from listening INTENTLY to what Obama was saying. So intently that I could hear his voice echoing off the buildings lining the mall. Like this was/is a dream that has come true. At last.

It is moving to me that so many people are PAYING ATTENTION. And they may not and certainly will not agree with everything Obama proposes. But they are paying attention and there's a palpable readiness, now that Bush is gone, to really DO SOME GOOD in our country and the world. I think Obama "gets" this readiness. I am not so sure that the Democratic leadership in Congress get it, but so it goes. Overall, I was thrilled. Cold, but thrilled. I won't forget this day.


Ed said...

Even on TV, it was pretty moving. The sheer number of people, of all colors, was pretty amazing to see. Yes, there were a few moments during the speech that made me squirm, and I expect there will be many disappointments in the next four to eight years, but it was a moving event nonetheless. The sight of Bush getting in the helicopter and leaving was pretty awesome, too. You'll have to tell me more about it when you get back.

Suzy said...

That intent listening definitely came through on the TV screen. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop, pretty amazing in a crowd so large.

GHW Bush won the best hat contest, hands down. His son looked ... same as always. Mean. Confused. His mouth was closed, so it must have been one of those rare moments when he wasn't telling a lie, except perhaps to himself: "Ah've been a good preznit. Ah brought peace to the women of cover in Eye-rak."

I'm glad you booed Pelosi. You know how I feel about her.

One of my friends at school was saying today, "If Obama respects and restores the Constitution, that will be plenty." I find myself thinking a lot of those, "If he just ... that will be good." The long and the short of it is, he probably WILL disappoint, he HAS disappointed already, but there are so many places where he can make a huge difference. It will definitely not be the same as it has been. I'm breathing a little freer.

See you when you return!

Suzy said...

Julia's nose looks cold. Maybe she needs one of these:

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Anonymous said...

Hi Chuck,

Thanks so much for this post! It means a lot to hear directly from you about what it was like to be there. Our family was not together during the time of the inauguration, but when we gathered at the end of the day we all commented on how we had thought about you being in that great crowd. The five of us agreed that it felt like you were representing us during such an important moment for our country. We were glad that you and Julia got up early, braved the cold and made it there.

Peace and cheers,