1.8 million pack Washington to witness Obama

By Nick Bush, Collegian Staff


WASHINGTON – About 1.8 million descended on Washington D.C. Tuesday to witness Barack Obama’s historic inauguration as the United States’ 44th President, including a large amount of young people for the first time in years.

The streets of the nation’s capital were full of hopeful voices. Cheers and excited screaming rang out across the brisk morning as a large police and military presence made many feel secure.

The crowd was jubilant before Obama took the podium, as the cheering masses listened to Pastor Rick Warren’s invocation, and a performance of an original John Williams composition featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Many of the city’s residents and visitors were smiling and optimistic.

‘It’s just a wonderful experience, I’m so glad to be here,’ said Jenene Jones, 25, of Macon, Ga.

‘I’m so glad we can reclaim the presidency,’ said Texas A&M senior Jake Here, of Galveston,Texas. ‘I’ve lived in Texas most of my life and have always lived in an area where Republicans have been touted as great, as being right, and I’ve always valued progressive thought and was a big proponent of Obama from the start; but when he won, I just couldn’t believe it.’

Here and his roommate had been forced to stay in a suburb of Philadelphia to get a room for the festivities and then traveled two hours by train to Washington, before quipping that he had no doubt it was a worthwhile trip.

‘I told my roommate Ben I have to witness this historic moment in history,’

Others were ready to celebrate months of hard work they spent campaigning in the hopes of seeing this day come to pass.

‘We’ve just been working really hard this whole campaign, and we wanted to reward ourselves for all of the canvassing and phone drives and hours volunteering by coming down here to witness this,’ said members of the Beckley, W.Va., Young Democrats.

The diverse crowd seemed to share an electrifying excitement about the nation’s new leader.

Many could be seen huddled together over cell phones and portable radios, as the millions on Washington Mall strained to catch Obama’s inaugural address. His voice echoed over the massive crowd, many of whom seemed driven to display support for the landmark election despite the tight security, cold temperatures and the long lines taxing every aspect of the city’s infrastructure.

Just after noon, Obama was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as cannon blasts and booming applause rung the new administration.

‘Our economy is weak, we’ve seen a collective failure of making tough choices,’ Obama said. ‘Our use of energy strengthens our adversaries ‘hellip; these are indicators of a crisis.’

Although Obama said times were tough, he emphasized his belief in America’s unique resolve to persevere and stated that ‘we understand that greatness is never a given, it must be earned,’ before adding that ‘more often men and women of an obscure path have been our leaders,’ highlighting his point that the road ahead for the United States will be a difficult one.

Nick Bush can be reached at [email protected]