Brief recap: I waited in line for 5 hours, barely got in, couldn't see a thing, and nearly froze to death, but I wouldn't have traded anything for the opportunity to be there when Barack Obama became our President.
I got to DC on Sunday afternoon, a bit too late to attend the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. While the plane was landing, we realized that our inauguration tickets were in our car at the Orlando airport. After a brief period of freaking out (and seriously considering one of us flying back to get them) we went to will call where they reprinted our tickets (thanks to a little white lie and some inaccurate assumptions). That night I got to see everyone from the campaign who made the trip to DC. I missed the Florida staff party because they wouldn't let people under 21 and some people in our group were too young so we all went out elsewhere.
Monday we went sightseeing with Ben M (as opposed to my Ben), a fellow field organizer that so graciously let us sleep on his couch/floor.
Tuesday morning we woke up early and left the house at 6:30 (it was actually 6:35 thanks to me which everyone loves pointing out). We took the extremely crowded metro to Judiciary Square where we we found a mob scene. People everywhere. We tried to go around the crowd but at some point just had to join them. We found our entrance – the now infamous Purple Gate – and then started trying to find the end of the line. After 5 blocks or so, we found it (ish) and began waiting. And waiting. The gates opened at 8 and still we waited. Jesse Jackson strolled by and still we waited. Some people shouted "move that bus," the bus moved, and still we waited. A girl climbed a tree and still we waited. At 10am we hadn't moved at all. Ben M suggested leaving our longheld place in line and trying to find a different way in. I hesitated leaving our spot, but eventually agreed that we weren't getting anywhere waiting there. So we walked back toward the Purple Gate. At the gate, we found an opening the size of a double doorway and tens of thousands of people trying to push their way into it. So we joined the throng of people and started making our way toward the gate in little surges. At 11:40, after about an hour of being tightly compressed in the swarm of ticketholders, we made it to the gate. We strolled through, briefly waiving our tickets that no one really checked. Security was a breeze. We found a spot in our section. We could not see the ceremony directly, but there was a jumbo-tron in our view. Unfortunately, this view was blocked by a badly placed tree. So I occasionally got a glimpse of the side of someone's head as the camera zoomed in. We missed the (apparently messed up) swearing-ing because of an ill-timed ambulance. The sound wasn't amazing, but I could hear his speech which was amazing. I still need to watch it again but I thought it was great. After the ceremony, we walked home (waving goodbye to George Bush's helicopter) and watched the parade on TV. Ben M went to the Youth Ball last night so we got to hear the inside scoop on that one, but we chose not to go to any of the balls. Part of me regrets that, but I was so tired that day I don't know how I would have zipped up a dress let alone danced all night in heels.
On Wednesday, we did some more sightseeing. We went to the Library of Congress (though they wouldn't let us in the reading room), the Supreme Court (but the line to hear arguments was too long in the cold), and the National Archives (no caveat on that one). Then we came home.
All in all, the experience was amazing. I can complain about the organization (which was nothing near the level that we all came to expect of a campaign event) and the cold. But at least I made it in unlike many ticketholders. And for the rest of my life I can say I was there when Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th President.
Here is a link to all of our pictures from the trip. A few of them are posted below.
Me and Ben at the ceremony:
What we could see:
Jesse Jackson passing right by us:
Check out the rest of our Inauguration/DC pictures here.