We got fairly close to the swearing in dais, wanting a good view and some pictures before the inauguration itself. There were tons of people who had the same idea, and there was an almost sacred silence as people snapped photos and stared.
Then, we went to the Supreme Court, a place that I hold in awe. Someday, maybe, just maybe…
We worked our way down the National Mall, after stops at the Capitol and the Supreme Court. As we got closer, the crowds grew thicker, and happier. The entrepreneurship was incredible. There were Obama tee-shirts, hats, calendars, posters, scaarves, buttons, bookmarks, even earrings. I wondered: what must Obama think of all this hawking? We circled around the Washington Monument, and I recalled how many times I’ve been to DC for demonstrations. I demonstrated during the Reagan/Bush era (at a tender young age), yes, the Clinton era, and of course, the Bush 2 era. In fact, to demonstrate against something is the ONLY reason I have ever been to DC. It’s about time I came for something positive!
We wanted to get as close as possible to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial, but didn’t want to sit there for hours trapped inside the checkpoints, cold and without food, so we decided to backtrack a bit and find a restaurant. Edward, with his usual instincts for fine cuisine, found us a nice French cafe and we had lunch while several self-important Washington lawyers pow-wowed at the table next to us.
Back at the concert site, we sang the national anthem, and listened to some great musicians, particularly Springsteen. As I watched him belting it out, with a gospel choir backing him up, I practically cried, thinking of how tirelessly he had campaigned for Obama. Most of the musicians were great, especially Mary K. Blige and the inimitable, inspiring Pete Seeger, who led a mass rendition of This Land Is Your Land. (I didn’t really care for the parade of actor celebrities). Even more interesting were the people in the crowd surrounding us, so full of exuberance. Note the elegantly dressed women in the photos. I could tell from just looking at them that they weren’t the type who would ordinarily come to concerts or demonstrations or mass events. But this was different! They were crying!
Here’s where we stayed in Washington, DC, home of Peter Eveleth. The house is 9 blocks from the Capitol, and it proved to be the coziest, most comfortable, accommodations I could have imagined. On the night we arrived, tired and worn out from a long train trip, a fire blazed in the hearth, and Peter immediately made us drinks. We’re so lucky to have met him! He’s smart, witty, has great politics and a big, generous spirit. Many thanks to Peter and to Eileen for introducing us to him!
The inauguration is an exuberant affair. But there’s work to do. On the National Mall, we encountered the Guantanamo protestors as they gathered for the day. They put on their black hoods and marched slowly and solemnly down the Mall, hunched over. Close Guantanamo and this shameful chapter of our history, Mr. Obama!
The boy behind us–who boarded at Bellows Falls, Vermont–told us he’d decided three hours ago, on the spur of the moment, to head to the inauguration. We lost track of him a bit later, after deciding to switch cars due to some insufferably loud and pretentious Vermont Law School students.
At our next spot on the train, three adorable young (and very earnest) college student Obama supporters got on at Amherst, Massachusetts, and encamped next to us with their multiple electronic devices. Here, the two women (one who claimed to be asexual, and the other bisexual) texted and played games long into the night.
In New York, two Dominican prostitutes alighted and sat behind the college students. They drank Corona beer, ate Doritos, chatted with everyone in an easy, familiar, charming way, and after an hour or so, fell asleep in each other’s arms. They were big Obama supporters. It was hard to tell if they were bound for DC for work, inauguration or…both.
The inauguration train began at White River Junction, Vermont and made stops down the I-91/95 corrider of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennslvania, New Jersey, Maryland and DC. It took a grueling 13 hours.
The stationmaster and other station personnel in White RIver were beside themselves with excitement about all the passengers headed to DC. Indeed, about half an hour before departure, the stationmaster pulled out his fancy Leica camera and started shooting photos of us all. So then, I decided to shoot him shooting us!