Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Madness Update!

Just to follow up on my previous post... I spent Inauguration Day in a news-editing bubble at the ABC News bureau in downtown DC- far isolated from the huge, freezing maddening crowds, but at the same time, hearing intimately from people who traveled far and wide to get to Washington - all for the opportunity to stand for several hours with strangers in the bitter cold and to see an African American man become president. I recorded, and then edited these peoples' stories into soundbites. And the stories I heard changed my perspective - a bit.

I am pretty cynical by nature - I voted for Obama, but never felt the glow that many others apparently did. And while I am still wary of him as I am with any politician, I could not help but be touched by the stories I heard from people who felt the need to be there.

I edited the story of a 70-year-old Louisiana woman who used to drink from a colored-only water fountain... a young woman from North Carolina whose father was the second black player ever to play football at the University of Oklahoma... and another woman who received her education in segregated schools in Huntsville, Alabama. These are people who have seen a world of change in their own life times - like going from the Wright Brothers to landing on the Moon - but at a much faster clip!

I heard from a woman who was watching CNN in her home in Columbus, Ohio last night when she decided she HAD to be in Washington for the inauguration. So she and two friends hopped in the car at 9:45 pm, and drove all night to make it to the Mall. I edited people who flew in from California and Las Vegas - and from a family who crammed 12 people into an RV to make the pilgrimage from Florida. Their dedication to being a part of history was touching and admirable.

As for me - I drove away from Inauguration day with a far better commute than I had any right to expect. After facing unexpected detours in the morning, I flew out of town in the afternoon. We had been warned to avoid driving, and to take Metro, but I made it home - from 17th and K to Olney - in 50 minutes. If I had taken the subway, I might still be on the train!

I am thankful to be done now with the Inaugural hoopla - and I suspect the rest of Washington is as well. Thank goodness this day only comes once every four years!

I do have one small rant to close with. For a world that has supposedly changed - one that strives to embrace brotherhood and a new commitment of acceptance - I think we still have to work on growing up a bit. The way President Bush was treated by the crowd at the Capitol upon his introduction was shameful and immature. The crowd of invited guests - the well-monied, well-respected folks - booed and taunted Mr. Bush with choruses of "Na Na, Hey Hey Goodbye". That disrespects not only Mr. Bush, but also the office he held - the same office President Obama holds today.

If Mr. Obama is to be successful, he will have to find a way to rid the nation of its polarized ways. This little display certainly sent a message that there is still quite a lot of work to do.

And now... onto the hard part! Good luck, President Obama!

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