Opinion: A Memorable Inauguration
On a cold January 22, 2013 day, as many as one million people gathered at the Capitol building to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and I was fortunate enough to be one of them.
I attended the inauguration with my dad, lucky enough to have been given tickets to the inauguration the night before. We originially had no tickets at all, hoping to claim a spot in the thousands of people already attending, where we could get a good view of the Capitol without getting trampled upon.
With a good stroke of luck, we entered our names into a raffle at our congressman Jackie Speiers’ reception the night before, thinking nothing of it. Miraculously, our names were pulled and we won the tickets.
As my dad and I sat on the metro that night traveling the 30 minutes back to Vienna, Virginia, I dozed off after an eventful day, dreading the early morning that awaited me. Suddenly, my dad woke me up and with contained excitement blurted out: “Sabiha, we got the tickets.” Exhausted, I was completely disoriented and my dad’s news seemed completely unrealistic. Yet despite all my doubt and questioning if he was tricking me, we had actually won the tickets. My day had just become ten times better.
The morning of the inauguration we woke up at a dark 5:30 a.m., piled onto the metro once again with other tired inauguration-goers, and arrived in DC about 3 hours before any festivities began.
We were surrounded by people of all ethnicites and personalities, coming from all over the country, from California to Wisconsin to Maryland. However, we all had two things in common: we were all very tired and possessed alot of undiscovered excitement.
In the ensuing hours, we watched the festivities begin, starting with the Brooklyn choir band composed of young girls and boys who sang a few songs to get the day going.
As notable members of Congress came out there were boos and cheers as the Democrats and Republicans in the crowd cheered for their favorites. Clearly there were more Democrats in the crowd in support of Obama, but even when Paul Ryan came out, amongst all the boos and yells that circulated amongst the crowd, there were the few people next to us who cheered, whilst they received smirky glares and laughs from all Obama’s supporters around them.
Finally, following Michelle, Sasha and Malia–who all received numerous cheers and admiring comments about their beauty–President Obama ascended to the stage.
I will never forget the experience of being there on that cold winter day, in the crowd of nearly a million people all waiting to witness the same thing. Even being so far away from the actual ceremony, just being able to see the Capitol and the tiny figure of Obama made it feel like I was so close.
After being sworn into office for the second time, it was time for Obama to give his speech.
It was, to me, quite a memorable speech, that captured both everyone in the crowd and watching at home. It reminded me so much of Lincoln’s speeches that harnessed our minds and hearts and remain notable and well-remembered today.
The President began his speech by citing the Declaration of Independence: “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”. As he continued to cite from history, discussing the triumphs and hardships that we have constantly faced, he repeatedly returned to discuss his vision of a government that is “by the people, for the people”.
He ended his historical anecdotes with a statement of how we need to achieve this goal together as a nation, today. He went on to state the endless opportunities that we as a nation possess, emphasizing the need to eliminate partisan divisions in order to be able to achieve the things that we as a nation want.
Obama stated that what will give real meaning to our country is the power of equality, and having no divisions of class structure. He elaborated that freedom and good health should not be reserved to the few and wealthy; this truly riled up the crowd, who seemed to find much truth in his claims. Their excitment proved that his speech truly highlighted both who he is as a president and the things he truly believes in.
He went on to address specific issues such as gay rights, womens rights, and the need to attack climate change–all things he will tackle during his next four years of presidency.
Although there were very many critics of Obama’s speech that said he was just stating things that will never actually happen, he emphasized so many things that have given many people hope to generate true change.
This speech proved so memorable because of the essence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that it contained, and the hope that he seemed to create within the one million people that were there proved the value of his skilled oration.
The experience was one that no TV screen could replicate, and is something that I will forever cherish. Even though we primarily watched the President on the jumbotron, the feeling of being in Washington DC amongst all the politics and hype of inaguration was an experience in itself.