Inaugural Conclusions

I guess I should say a few words about the Inauguration, but honestly, it's been all over the news and I feel like I overdosed on it. Still, I'd like to provide a quick recap of our day.

It was just as crowded and chaotic as we expected, but we're glad we went.

Our time started at the Illinois State Society Inaugural Ball on Monday night, which is rather ironic since neither one of us has ever been to the state of Illinois. We took the Metro downtown and were, by far, the most elegantly dressed riders on the train. Dinner was a very fancy affair--the table was crowded with so many glasses and silverware and food that it was hard to sit down. Dinner was great; a number of Illinois politicians and "celebrities" spoke, but the President-Elect did not make an appearance. There were about 2,000 people for dinner, and after the meal, they opened the doors to the remaining 5,000 people who bought tickets just for the ball, not for dinner. At that time, it became extremely crowded and we headed out before too late.

The dinner table. We eat like this every night.

We were fortunate to have some friends who live close to the Capitol (10th and C) and they had invited us to spend the night with them. This is when things really began to get interesting. Ginger has a friend who works on the Capitol Police Force, and he called us Monday night to tell us he had some extra tickets to the swearing-in--would we like them? Yes--but the catch was we had to meet him after his morning brief and before he actually went on duty. No problem...except his brief was at 3:00 AM! So we hoofed it down to the Capitol and met him shortly after 4 for the exchange. Of note, even at 3:30, there were lots of people out on the street headed downtown.

The 3:00 AM trip resulted in this ticket.

The morning of Jan 20 was brutally cold. We had on so many layers, we looked like the love child of the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Woman and the Michelin Man. Since we had tickets, and the gates didn't open until 9, we didn't leave the house until shortly after 8 and walked the 10 blocks to Maryland Avenue and our appointed section. We were by the Reflecting Pool, just on the other side of the Ulysses S Grant statue (a suiting place, as during Grant's second Inauguration, in 1873, the temperature was a frigid 4 degrees with 40 mph wind gusts!). There's a subtle rise there, and since we were on the down side, we didn't have the best sight line, but could hear everything with crystal clarity.

Security was everywhere, as seen here on top of the National Gallery of Art.

The crowd was huge--immense. If were looked back towards the Lincoln Memorial, it was a sea of faces and little American flags. I haven't heard an official number, but I think a conservative estimate of 1.5-2 million would be fair.

The ceremony itself was relatively short, and there's three moments that really stand out in my head.

First, much has been made of the verbal stumble during the Oath of Office. As someone who has taken that Oath several times (it's basically the same as the oath for military officers), it's not easy---it's full of big words and they don't have a natural flow. Every time I've taken it (3 times), someone has messed it up. No big deal.

Here's a short video of the end of the Oath of Office. You'll catch a glimpse of Ginger in the first 2 or 3 seconds, then you can hear the Marine Corps Band launch into "Hail To The Chief"

Second, I was amazed when Rick Warren, during the Invocation, started to recite the Lord's Prayer and everyone around us, en masse, joined in. If you were watching, there was really no indication what was about to happen (and the Lord's Prayer is not a traditional part of the ceremony), but the people quickly joined in. I'm sure there are many sociological conclusions that can be drawn from that, but it was very interesting.

Rick Warren leads the Inaugural Invocation.

Third, I was struck at how quiet the crowd became during the classical music performance by Yo-Yo Ma. It's a beautiful piece, but more than that, that entire immense crowd became totally quiet. Thousands and thousands of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, listening to the haunting cello music. For some reason, it really stuck out in my brain and I couldn't help but think of the old line, "Music soothes the savage beast." (Trivial side note. The actual quote by William Congreve is, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.". It's from his play The Mourning Bride, written in 1697.)

Yo-Yo Ma and the Classical Crew.

After it was all over, we decided not to wait for the Parade. We knew there would be hundred of thousands of people in the Metro Stations downtown, so we walked the length of the Mall, crossed the Arlington Bridge and entered the Arlington Metro Station. This was a good idea, as it was virtually empty and we got on the first train. We metro'd home, and I was laying on the couch with the cat by 4:00.

A busy day with a tremendous amount of people, but I'm glad we went.

Stop by in February, as I have a couple of great posts in the works.

Here's some random photos of the day:

Thanks to those eyebrows, this man was very warm.

The end of a long day.

If you want to see one of the coolest photos of the day, click here. You can zoom in and out as you like--you can even play Find-A-Person. Can you find every living President, The Supreme Court Justices, Ted Kennedy, Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma, and if you are really good, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen.

1 comment:

Leigh Anne Nottingham said...

I can hardly keep up with your informative and interesting posts! I loved hearing/seeing inauguration day from a personal view :)

I can't access the cool photo - the Summit firewall is preventing me! Next time I'm down at the Cool Bean :) I'll see what I can see.

It was oak in the fireplace! Thanks for the explanation!