[EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob is an Englishman and Burien resident who is currently in Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration of President Obama. This is his second in a series of exclusive reports for The B-Town Blog; his first was filed Sunday morning.]
1/18/09 – THE OBAMA INAUGURAL CELEBRATION
Today was the day of the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. I arrived on the National Mall at 8:40 am to join a line near the Washington Monument waiting for the gate to the west end of the National Mall to open. Once it did, we all moved in quickly and I rushed along the south side of the reflecting pool to a place not far from front. There I stayed in the freezing weather (it reached a balmy 37 degrees) through to the end of the show at 4:30 pm.
Around 10 am we were treated to some rehearsal activity followed by clips of the performers in the waiting area and various videos. We were fairly certain that the large military helicopter that made a low pass in front of the memorial before the show was the Obama and Biden families checking out the spectacle on their way to the venue.
The show itself started promptly at 2:30 pm. The size of the structure built for the television production and ticket holders meant that it was impossible to see what was actually happening on stage from my position but I did have three large screens not far away and was surrounded by so many enthusiastic people that the atmosphere far outweighed the lack of a clear view of the performers. There were many great moments.
U2 were excellent, as was RenÃƒÂ©e Fleming singing YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll Never Walk Alone, and Master Sergeant Caleb Green of the US Army singing the Star-Spangled Banner. He was great during the show but he was even better during the rehearsals. It was a real treat to see Pete Seeger performing more than 45 years after he played at the same location as part of Martin Luther King JrÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s March On Washington. He encouraged the crowd to sing This Land Is Your Land with him and they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let him down. The spoken parts of the show were very well delivered, especially when accompanied by historic scenes.
In many ways, Barack ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s speech was not unusual. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come to expect him to provide an incredibly inspiring performance and he did exactly that. The crowd loved it and are unlikely to ever forget it.
All in all this was a very special occasion. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know exactly how many people attended but I could see people as far back as the Washington Monument. Apparently there were also people most of the way back to the Capitol too, which is really quite amazing.
But, that may be nothing compared to the two million or more people expected on Tuesday.
Here’s a photo slideshow of some of the scenes witnessed by Bob Sunday: