Wednesday, January 28, 2009

History.

The trip to Washington last week to bear witness to the historic inauguration of President Obama was in many ways exactly what I expected it to be. I expected crowds, and there were crowds aplenty. I expected getting around the city to be difficult, and it turned out to be even more so than I'd anticipated. I expected it to be cold, and it ended up being arctic-like. But I also expected it to be emotionally significant...and although it was, it was for different reasons than I imagined. While the transfer of power from Bush to Obama was meaningful to me because of the failed policies and embarrassing style of governance that dominated the last eight years, there was little doubt in my mind that the most significant thing about Obama's inauguration was the color of his skin. It's always awkward to be a white man writing about the feelings of black people, but spending hours packed in shoulder to shoulder with people of all colors and all faiths certainly afforded me the chance to feel a little bit of what they were feeling.

Throughout my time in DC I continually encountered people who had traveled from afar just to be in the vicinity of history. I chatted briefly with one black couple from Texas who had gotten their tickets from Sen. John Cornryn's office. They assured me they hadn't voted for him, but they certainly guessed right that the conservative Senator's constituency would not inundate his office with ticket requests...and so it was that they, like me, came to be waiting in line on a cold Monday in January, waiting to pick up their own tickets to history. Whether it be in the countless number of decorative "flare" adorning clothing, the smiles that never faded no matter how brutal the temperatures got, or the tears that freely streamed from the eyes of those surrounding me, there was little doubt that this was about so much more than one unpopular leader being replaced by a new one.

President Obama spoke of the implausibility of his taking the oath of office when, just sixty years ago, his father would not even have been allowed to eat lunch in certain white restaurants. It truly is extraordinary. For all of America's flaws, and there are many, its ability to evolve, to learn and to adapt, sometimes in huge leaps and bounds, is what constantly renews my hope in a better tomorrow. The mistakes of the past are not destined to be the history of the future, but rather the lessons for the present, and the vision for tomorrow.

Here's a Flickr slide show of some of the photos I took. My favorite is the second photo in the stream---cold weather, large crowds, and bigger smiles. Also look for Catherine Keener, Dustin Hoffman, James Carville, David Gergen, Dick Durbin, Roland Burris, and Bob Jackson. And Morgan. Wretched Morgan ruined every photo by jumping into them. Grrr!

2 Comments:

Blogger JMW said...

Thanks for the recap and the great shots. I have two comments that are much sillier and more superficial than the historical moment demands:

1. The picture of you in that giant chair is one of my favorite pictures in a long time.

2. Catherine Keener looks awful.

January 29, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger lmha said...

Wow! I had no idea you went. That's amazing. I'm very jealous.

February 28, 2009 at 12:17 AM  

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