I still have this massive project to compile go through and pick out some pictures from the more than 1000 we took during inauguration week. In the meantime, I thought I'd just toss out some post-inaugural thoughts that have been running threw my mind the past couple of weeks.
First and foremost, thank you to everyone who contributed to allow me the ability to tell you from the ground what was happening. I actually felt like a paid journalist for a week and that is one of those crazy fantasies us bloggers live for ;) And to my cousin and her family who's hospitality in allowing us to live with them (not just stay in their home, but truly live with them as fully welcome members of their home, amazing... thank you and we love and miss you all already!), made the trip possible. She's also a great guest blogger!!! Help me encourage her to start her own!!!
I think what bothers me most about the inauguration, is the way the media covered it. Except for the 2 million people who were there, if you weren't there, you missed something and the media didn't have the staffing or the will to tell you about it.
Think about this. Two million people one of the largest pilgrimages in the history of the world descended on one city for just a few days. Those people came from all over the world, all over the country, every political background (yes, Fox News was there), and every socio-economic status you could ever imagine.
Rich and poor, every race, more languages spoken in one town than perhaps ever in the history of the United States. I saw not one fight. Not one scuffle. Not one disagreement. Not even a scowl (well, I'll cover this in a minute)... This incredible mass of humanity coming together for one purpose, to issue in hope for a new generation.
HOPE is a powerful thing.
The people not only didn't complain or even grumble or push each other when waiting on a platform with 40,000 other people for hours in the cold, but they made it fun. They talked to each other, got to know each other, often danced and kidded around with each other about the various states and countries they came from, in the most good natured way imaginable...or maybe even in a way that is unimaginable.
Let me repeat two million people behaved themselves for an entire week!
It didn't matter the color of your skin. It didn't matter your ethnicity, age, religion, etc... The overall kumbayah attitude of two million people was something I, my husband and children will carry with us for the rest of our lives. I'm not sure you can put into words the energy of two million ecstatically happy people! It just permeated everything and everyone. I could feel pure joy. Everywhere we went.
A few notes about the coverage. The media missed the real story entirely. They missed it...
They didn't talk about the roaring booing when Bush stepped out on the platform. I was pretty horrified (see my comments live as it happened below). This is a noise that started as a groan and grew into deafening boos that lasted until they took him off the screen. I don't believe they showed him again on screen to us until he got on the airplane again. I am quite sure that was deliberate. So, how to describe this guttural reaction has plagued me for weeks. It was not organized, it was not expected, it most certainly was not coordinated. This came from some place else.
A place that made two million people 1.5% of the total people who voted in the 2008 general election make a pilgrimage to see their new leader in person. This was a boo on torture, on rendition, on hatred and division, war, lies, gay bashing, religious persecution, NSA spying, the horrors of Katrina's aftermath, the economic collapse of failed GOP theories, corruption, lack of accountability, and disrespect for our Constitution, our way of life, our ideals and who we are as Americans. This place that that boo came from inside the people around me was not controllable. It was a sheer instinctual show of disrespect earned by a man who held so little respect for us and who we are as Americans. It was the last chance two million people had to tell that man he was and will be judged as wrong... on everything...
It didn't stop with the booing. When Bush got on the helicopter to go, the crowd erupted spontaneously again in two million cheers mixed in with nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey goodbye. Again, I didn't participate, but listened. I wanted to hear what that sounded like. I wanted to remember it.
As Bush flew directly over our heads, I did make a clear and deliberate gesture of my own. I waived good bye. I thought to myself. "Is is true? Is he really gone?" Had I not been there and seen it with my own eyes, I'm not sure I would have believed it.
When the inauguration was over, the crowd erupted again...in spontaneous joy! Literally hundreds of thousands of people dancing with each other to marching band music for what seemed like hours. My daughters noted some children their age in the area picking up garbage bags and starting to clean up the mess. What a mess it was! I think it was CQ that put out a free special edition newspaper that they handed out on the metros and in the streets by the hundreds of thousands before the inauguration. What a mess! Who wanted to hold it? So they ended up in huge piles all over the mall and blowing in the wind. Noodles and Malaika just grabbed garbage bags though and started picking up the trash. They were having so much fun that I had to eventually drag them off the mall. They were excited about doing community service. They'd heard Obama's call to arms on that issue and were shocked they could personally answer by doing something so simple LOL! Man I love my girls... They got pins from a woman as a thank you for their efforts and wear them proudly on their coats to this day.
The questions I've gotten most in the last two weeks have to do with two main topics. Transportation and restrooms. LOL!
After waiting in line for hours for a Summerfest bathroom. We were prepared. We went in advance, tried not to drink much and I found the restrooms immediately when I got there.
I found them completely and utterly without a line. No wait at all. They remained that way the entire event. I think the combination of no food or beverage except what you could carry, and the fact that who would want to leave meant most people just didn't have to go or chose not to.
Transportation was a mess and brilliantly managed at the same time. All I can say is that my husband and children said it was the little things you learned to appreciate, an empty metro car, seeing the end of a line, a line moving, that kept you going. The cars did move, the lines did move and yes, we did get in. I would have changed a few things in retrospect. That said, it was really amazing to see how well DC managed to move and accommodate two million people. My hats off to the the transit authority. They could not have done much more.
What the media missed was this overall sense that we were in this together. That we were celebrating together and that we had together changed the world. They never quite got the magnitude of what was happening all around them. They were stuck in their media booths (all except for Chris Matthews whom I met on the street and got a pic with... notably he was the only commentator I saw who mentioned the people themselves). Or the fact that the president himself called this the People's Inauguration and the people are what it was all about...
On our new president.
My personal thoughts are mixed. It's been a bit rockier the past few weeks than I'd hoped, I am troubled by a few things I may account to you in the next few days. This is long enough though after another few weeks of silence, so I think I'll just say at this point. I'm at about a 70% approval rating on this administration. I'm overall with holding judgement for just a few more weeks, and then I'll be back roaring as usual I'm sure!