Saturday, January 24, 2009

Change

"Cheryle Jackson of Cincinnati reacts following the inaugural speech of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, underneath the General Ulysses S. Grant statue at the head of the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the National Mall Jan. 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama became the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States."

From those I've spoken to, they find it hard to come up with more than single words to describe Tuesday. But we do have some in common: Memorable, perfect, remarkable, unbelievable, and amazing.

It's no secret what event took place, no matter where one lives in the world. Tuesday made history with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. Obama not only was named the new official president, but also became the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States.

From reports, there was expected to be more than 2 million people in Washington, DC for this moment in history, and the media was not far off. More than 1.7 million people squeezed onto the mall.

I had anticipated heavy traffic everywhere. No parking and packed metros, so getting there was looking doubtful. Luckily for me, I got to crash with my buddy, Charlie, in his pad up in Georgetown to bypass all that horrendous traffic, steep hotel costs and excessive crowds before Tuesday.

On Monday night, Drew, Joe and I rolled down from Baltimore to stay with Charlie (thanks again, man) and get a glimpse of life in Georgetown. We hit The Big Hunt in DuPont Circle, which was a pretty cool bar and dished out some solid wheat beer. The only problem was we stayed out all night and had to get up a 6 a.m.

Fast forward to the next morning after a quick cat nap. After catching a quick cab ride, we got into downtown from Charlie's pad around 7:30 a.m. From there, Charlie had to shoot his assignments, so us three walked around and shot some features before hitting the mass crowds on the National Mall.

Somehow, someway, we bypassed the millions of people that crowded every square inch of downtown and walked straight through gates you needed tickets for, including those thousands of people who stood in line in the underground tunnel beneath the Mall and never got in.

From what I read, more than 240,000 people were issued tickets. Not us though. We were laughing, yet terrified we'd get the boot at some point and have to start from square one. But somehow we kept creeping closer and closer...and closer.

So with no tickets, no press credentials, no special passes, we were the first group of spectators that were able to stand; behind those that had "real" tickets and were seated. From this satellite image map, you can see were in front of the General Ulysses S. Grant statue at the head of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Pretty amazing considering when we got onto the mall, every space toward the Washington Monument was packed with people.

From that point, we killed a couple hours walking around (trying to stay warm) before Obama was sworn into office and delivered his powerful inaugural speech. I found myself listening and taking in the moment more than shooting. I guess I could since I had no deadline. But it so hard to describe the energy for change.

The crowds defied belief. The sheer amount of energy downtown was fascinating. The emotion was evident and people couldn't be happier. Especially when former U.S. President George W. Bush departed by helicopter. I never heard so much booing, hissing, middle-fingers and peace signs displayed in one place at one time.

Following Obama's speech, we kept shooting features and walking around. We had been running off of three hours of sleep, no breakfast (or any sort of hydration), no form of heat with the numbing temperatures, and no seats, as we had been standing since 7 a.m.

Yet it was all worth it. This was something I'll always remember. Whether it be because it was my first inauguration or because of what this remarkable moment in our nation's history meant to millions of people who had the chance to share that moment live.

Amazing. Truly amazing. Here are a bunch of photos from the day.

1 Comments:

Blogger brad said...

'THE END OF A[n] ERROR!'

sigh.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 9:17:00 PM  

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