Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stories from history

Soon after the election I got in touch with a friend (Frank's widow) and asked if the boys and I could stay on her living room floor. She told me she would be out of the country during the Inauguration, so she would be sending me the keys to her apartment. We stayed in a penthouse facing the Potomac River with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Little lady and my dad were part of the journey.

I still can't get over the mood of everyone we met. It was as if we were in a small town and we all knew each other, even if we were meeting for the first time. Both times crossing the Roosevelt Bridge (for the concert and the Inauguration) my kids started talking to random strangers and they in turn talked freely with my kids. People looked out for us on the subway, graciously helped us with directions and smiled freely.

On Monday, when it became incredibly clear that there was no way we would get within a mile of the Capitol building on Inauguration Day, my dad and I took the kids to the site of the swearing in ceremony. While walking from the Metro station a woman sitting in a parked car rolled down her window and yelled with a huge sound of relief "It is his last full day in office!"

Little lady tried very hard to be a trooper but there were times that a four-year-old body just couldn't walk any more. The Wonderful Grandfather was often her personal chariot.

There is some debate about whether I've been to the Lincoln Memorial before (I have no memory of it). We all went there the morning of the Inauguration. The boys asked what was written to the left of Lincoln's statue. As my dad read the end of the Gettysburg address, we were both crying.

It was by far the largest crowds I have ever been in. It was also the longest I asked my kids to be out in cold weather. Once again, little lady couldn't do it. And once again, Wonderful Grandfather whisked her away to the apartment. He even flagged down a bicycle rick-shaw for the princess to return to her borrowed palace in style.

Once President Obama was sworn in, people started leaving. I knew I had to go with the flow and miss the rest of the ceremony. The tide of people was too great to stay to listen to the poetry or remaining words. But never did I feel unsafe or worried that the crowds would get rowdy.

As we were walking back towards the Lincoln Memorial I could hear the most spirited version of We Shall Overcome. It was like a second line. Drums, horns and happy singing. The boys and I walked over to see this spontaneous celebration of song and dance.

After the singing, the 2 mile walk back in the cold seemed to fly by. Even the boys kept saying they had seen history.

And it was an honor to be there.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm delighted you all had that opportunity!

Goofball said...

wow, it sounds very impressive

Kate said...

Wow, what a great post. That's awesome you were there. Your kids will thank you for it.

Ambassador said...

Are you trying to make me cry?

Can't believe you and I were just talking about your plans for this week and now it IS History.

Glad you and yours were able to be there and be part of it.

Talk to you soon! Hugs!!

Flower Child said...

We were part of one of the giant ticket scrums - and it could have turned out very badly what with the total lack of police presence. But somehow in this mass of people freezing cold everyone was very nice. We sang songs. It was magical.

Alex Elliot said...

That is just incredible! How wonderful that you kids had that opportunity to witness history not to mention you and your hubby.

Heather said...

Wow I bet that was amazing.

monstergirlee said...

What a wonderful day! thanks for taking the time to write about it.