Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 5 - INAUGURATION DAY- January 20, 2009

We get back to Sonja's around 4:30 am. Everybody (else) needed a nap. Sonja is up and ready to take the first ticketed group to the inauguration--they need to be there early. Sonja tells us to sleep for a minute and she'll wake us up when she comes back, then she'll drive us as close as she possible can. So I end up sharing a bed with a stranger (not the first time you say;) who came in from California.

7am-it's finally time time to go. Jack is so excited he's up and jumping around like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. He's walking around with his camera taping everyone sleeping and preparing. (see video below)My poor sis Sonja hasn't slept at all, but sleep deprived she drives us as close as she can.


Deborah, Jack Shirley and I start making our way through the LARGE but managable crowd. I spot a familiar face in the line and ask him a few questions about lines and tickets. We have a laugh and I walk away. Jack looks at me in amazement and ask if I knew that was the actor Ed Harris. Duh, yeah and he's married to Amy Madigan. Hey it's that kind of day.


We walk and walk and WOW-look at all those people. But hey we're from Chicago we know crowds. Uhh we do, but the DC cops don't. The traffic people and cops DON"T HAVE A CLUE!! At this moment I miss Chicago. My hats off to Chicago police and the CTA and almost even Daley (that's going too far) for having a plan and executing it. A mere 1.5 million people, we handle that in my neighborhood after a Cubs game...

The DC cops are sending people in the wrong direction and a massive crowd is headed into an already packed tunnel and everyone is stuck. We look in horror at the crowd and when we turn around Deborah is gone! I tell Shirley & Jack that we've lost Deborah and Jack says sadly, "Oh she was such a nice lady."


We follow another cops suggestion to go down the street, turn the corner and we'll get there. At this point you say why are we listening to a DC cop? Yeah, yeah we end up on that street with 100K people for almost 2 hours before a couple of guys climb poles and directs traffic on 3 streets as the cops look on amazed.




Finally free from that nightmare, we get to a gate. After 45 minutes of opening the gate, no closing the gate, uh wait let's open the gate, no only ticket holders, ok the gate is open...we finally get in. Bag check, body check, throw your water away--oh I get it airport security is here. AT LAST (Etta don't kick my ass) we are in!!!! It's only been 3 hours and 23 degrees but we are here.


There's excitement in the air, a group happiness--in spite of all the hassles.



Soon as we get in the motorcade passes right by us. the OBAMAMOBILE!










We are very close but on the side. We didn't realize how close we were until we saw a picture of the entire crowd and we were closer than most people there.













What an AMAZING moment in history! No, not the inauguration--I mean ARETHA'S HAT.

After I finally catch my breath (and clutch my pearls) I thought I'd hallucinated a glittering sparkling ballot box shining above Aretha--representing how far we'd come and how bright our future. Who was I kidding its RE-RE and her hat maker feeling like a natural woman...

It was hard to hear the speakers (but RE-RE didnt need no speakers, that

hat is angled to naturally amplify the sound) so people had radios, tv's, phones. The echo was fun.



This was one of the proudest moments in our country's history. It is hard to believe that a brilliant Black man with a brilliant Black wife and wonderful children, is the leader of the free world. Everyone is trying to hold back tears--cause it's cold and tears stick.

After the Hat and the Inauguration, Rev Lowry was a cherry on top. Opening his speech with the words of the Negro National Anthem--those lyrics also make me cry.


The 18 (or was it 21?)gun salute was pretty funny cause the first couple of shots (we couldnt see where they came from, we couldnt see the monitors) people had a look of panic in their eyes. By the 3rd or 4th shot none of the cops had moved or seemed concerned so it must be okay. Oh yeah, now we hear the cheers. All's safe (this still IS DC). But the best moment of the day came when Bush left in the helicopter and everybody cheered.




2:30pm and emotionally spent, people are leaving.

We're being directed to Union Station, which is great, it's right up the street and has plenty of shops and restaurants. Most people have been standing ouside with no food for at least 6 hours and we are happy but famished.Walking thru a happy crowdwe see hordes of people standing outside and all around Union Station. THEY"VE CLOSED ALL THE SHOPS & RESTAURANTS AT 2PM. Are you frigging kidding me?We are a capitalistic society and ther's capital to be made. $1 from everyone is 1.5 Million dollars. What--CLOSED! (I hate to keep bring up Chicago) But, in Chicago they'd be out IN Front of the restaurants with to-go carts.

I see why our economy is sooo bad and government screwed...if these are some of the same people running the government the way they run this town....

Not prepared for the crowd? This is WASHINGTON, DC for goodness sake. Large groups have been coming here ALWAYS & FOREVER. Get a clue. No wonder they can't find a state that will take them in.

We finally find Deborah again. Jack has made his way to Sonja's. Now everyone is back and exhausted (except me) soooo I go to a party with Sonja and Mom (yes, Sonja has had a little sleep by now). They sleep and watch balls. Except Adrienne who WENT to one of the balls.

We bring back lots of food and cakes. "Celebrate good times, come on. It's a celebration..."

That's it, we were witnessess to history. Nothing to do now but leave tomorrow. They make me turn down an invitation to party at the embassy because they're tired and want to rest for the road. We pick up Lovette from nearby and head back to Maryland to pack...














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