Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One in Two Million

I almost made it to the inauguration yesterday, but the Hobbit woke up with a fever and so the Wizard and the Elf went by themselves. We live about 8 miles almost due west of the Lincoln Memorial, so I offered to drive them to one of the bridges they would have to cross on foot on account of all the closed roads. The drive towards the city was eerie. Normally this is a very busy commuter route, but on this day, there were precious few cars. Instead, groups of people, all walking silently in the same direction. The two adventurers hopped out of the car by a closed exit ramp and disappeared behind a bush on the embankment. The Hobbit and I drove home and turned on the television. At times the phone would ring and we'd get an update from our very excited family:

"Mommy, I'm in a sea of people!!! And I can't see a thing!"

"Hi Hon, the Elf is completely overwhelmed, so we're making our way back now."

They had staked out a spot near the Washington Monument, from where they watched the proceedings on a Jumbotron until the Elf got very cold. They lasted until just a few seconds past the Presidential oath, then turned and made their way out of the city before the rest of the people left.

When the Elf returned home, I expected a detailed description of her woes. Instead, she offered a rather mature "I was miserable while we were there, but I am so happy I went!"

While I was disappointed that I could not myself be a part of that sea of flag waving humanity, I am glad I was able to watch closeups of Barack Obama the moment before he stepped out of the Capitol building. As he was descending the stairs, he had this look on his face.... "destiny" was all I could think. It was very humbling to be able to witness this intimate moment, in which he was as fully conscious as I suppose any of us can ever hope to be. I did not see triumph, power, levity, but a grave look that left me thinking that this man is coming to serve us. I wish you well, Mr. President.


Anonymous said...

I watched video of the oath and Obama's speech with my son. We went to the Mall last year so my kids could imagine how big that crowd was! (As they did when we watched the MLK speech on Monday.) It was a wonderful, intelligent speech.

How exciting that Wizard and Elf got to be there! I imagine it was quite cold...I wondered if that was why Mr. Bush looked so grumpy on stage left there :-)

K. said...

It was either that or the fact that the crowds were booing him. Apparently there was lots of singing "nana nana, nana nana, hey hey, goodbye." Not exactly a glorious exit. Yes, it was cold. My husband said that there were many underdressed people there, and the first aid tents were handing out those little hand a foot warmers.
Having said that, there has been such amazing energy in this area this week, I haven't experienced anything like it here.