My roommates and I woke up at 6.30am this morning, gobbled down some breakfast and pulled on endless layers before heading a few blocks down to the National Mall to watch the 57th Inauguration of the President of the United States of America. In a wonderful coincidence, it has fallen on Martin Luther King Day. 2013 also celebrates 150 years since the Capitol dome was finished – so there was a whole lot to celebrate in DC today!
The early wake-up (for a College/University student!) was entirely worth it. It was cold when the cloud cover came over but the atmosphere, even as early as 8am, with the Inauguration scheduled to begin at 11.30am, was electric. My feet got numb with cold, and there was disagreement regarding the rules to a game we played to pass the time but we got free badges and we got free flags and we got to watch Barack Obama take the oath for his second term as President of the United States of America. We were near the first jumbo-tron of the free un-ticketed section, and could see the Capitol clearly, though watched the jumbo-tron so we actually knew what was going it. Every time the crowd heard something it liked, or saw a person they loved, the flags were raised and flapped around wildly, eliminating people’s views of the goings on, but filling your eye-line with flashes of red white and blue, as voices cheered for the next four years.
After the excitement of the morning, it was a reasonably quick return (well, an hour…) back to our dorm building, hot food and sofa. Now I’m writing this watching the parade, and reflecting back on what was a brilliant experience. I had known months ago, as soon as I found out I was going to GW, that I’d be there for this inauguration, but it only really hit me when I was standing in front of the Capitol as the sun rose. The message of the Inauguration seemed to me to be one of hope, equality and of teamwork. It’s one that resonates not just in politics and society within the USA, but also at home, and all over the world. I’m just a little bit sentimental when it comes to celebrations of democracy and of the future to come.
I’m still taking so much in after my first fortnight at GW, and have many thoughts on dorm living and classes to come!