WWU Students Attend Historic Inauguration

Alexander Scott shares his experience in D.C.

By: Alexander Scott

Students Cody, Lonning, Phil Gray, Tommy Poole, Alan Newbold, Alban Howe, and alumnus Eric Gray in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

NOTE: Five WWU students were fortunate enough to be present in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, when history was made.  Alexander Scott, freshman history and mass communications major, writes of the experience.  This story was originally published in the January 22, 2009 issue of the Collegian.

On a cold wintry Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Barack Hussein Obama took the Oath of Office and became, amid much pomp and ceremony, the 44th President of the United States of America.  Just one day after our annual holiday in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mr. Obama made history by becoming the first African-American to ascend to the highest office in the land.  

Alban Howe, Philip Gray, Cody Lonning, Tommy Poole, and I awoke in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, boarded the Metro at 4 a.m., and stood in long lines for hours to secure a great view of the proceedings.  

One of the most impressive aspects of the event was the sheer number of people.  Over 2 million people turned the atmosphere on the mall electric.  

Our group was fortunate enough to have tickets for the reserved sections closest to the capitol steps.  Behind us, in the public area, the crowd was already stretched up the mall, shoulder to shoulder, all the way to the Washington Monument.  Throughout Capitol Hill the crowds were so dense that individual movement was limited to simply turning our heads.  

With so many people crowded into such a small area, I expected to see at least some measure of anger and hostility in those around me.  I was happily surprised, however, that such unpleasantness was largely absent.  The frigid pre-dawn air was full of jovial conversation and intermittent cheers, as strangers from around the country found themselves joined together by a common sense of celebration, joy, and hope.  

That, I think, was the most unique thing about the inauguration.  The atmosphere had to be seen and felt firsthand to be believed.  The fact that one man and his ideas could inspire millions to pack in like sardines and endure bitterly cold weather to witness his inauguration is a fitting testament to the sweeping movement that his campaign created.  

As he reminded us in his inaugural address, the road ahead will be long and difficult.  Our job is not done.  We are still in the midst of difficult times, but for one winter morning in our nation’s capital, the people of America stood united, looking toward the future with hope and anticipation. 

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