Wow, so somehow I ended up sitting on the front row (right next to the Marine Corps band) at the Inauguration last week. Originally, I didn’t have a ticket to sit anywhere outside so I was quite shocked when my lucked turned around.
Since I often work out of the Capitol, you may think it’s easy to get tickets to the Inauguration but that’s not the case. First, I had to consent to a background check and fingerprinting just to get a badge to be inside the building. Then, each media organization gets a certain number of tickets and there’s no guarantee every reporter gets a ticket. In my case, I wasn’t able to get a ticket through my work but I was able to get an ID badge to be in the Capitol.
Originally, I was going to go to the Capitol. Since it was MLK Day, I had they day off from work and it was pretty cold outside plus I knew there would be hoards of people–re: tourists–everywhere. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that even if I was just sitting inside the Capitol watching the Inauguration on TV, it’d be much more memorable than sitting on my couch and probably worth the hassle of getting there.
My good friend/work buddy Claire was in the same situation as me. Once we made it through security at the Capitol, we hung around in one of the several press galleries while reporters were running around anxiously, bracing to sit outside in the cold for a couple of hours. Claire and I had time to kill so we went and had a nice breakfast (an amazing ham and cheese omelet, home fries, coffee) at the Senate carry out. Several congressman were in and out of the carry out since it was one of the only places open. It was nice to see them with their wives, husbands, and children on such a momentous day.
After breakfast, we moseyed back to the press gallery and one of our favorite gallery employees, Jen, offered to take us outside so we could at least see the platform the President would be standing on and the nearly 1 million people gathered to watch him be sworn in for a second time. Standing near the front of the platform, I turned around and could see all the way to the Washington Monument–nearly 1 million people staring back, waiting to cheer and celebrate Barack Obama.
About 30 minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to start, Claire and I were getting ready to try to blend in somewhere outside hoping no one would notice we didn’t have tickets. Then, out of no where, one of the other press gallery employees pulled out two extra tickets that no one had claimed and handed them to us. Mine was located right on the front row.
The funny thing about the front row is that you’re so close, you can see people speaking at the podium but the way the stage is constructed, the railing makes it impossible to see their heads, so no matter who is speaking, all you could see were their bodies and hand movements. Nonetheless, I stooped on the ground quite a few times to get pictures of President Obama, Beyonce and others.
No matter the president, being able to participate in such a historic event was amazing and something I’ll never forget. From the opening prayer by Myrlie Evers to the final note in the Star Spangled Banner, every moment was beautiful and thought provoking (and VERY COOL!).
Also, the Black Tie and Boots Ball I attended the weekend before wasn’t half bad either. Luckily, I had a pretty handsome man to accompany me.