Watching the presidential inauguration beings back memories of my time living in and near Washington DC. I grew up in a Virginia suburb just about ten miles south of the district as the crow flies. I remember going downtown for Fourth of July celebrations year after year as a child and teenager. In particular, I remember the bicentennial celebration in 1976. I was only eight years old, and I’m pretty sure that’s the time I started being claustrophic. I tried to hold my mom’s hand and stay with her in the massive crowds, but it was suffocating being caught at waist level between adults all around. There were massive crowds on the national mall and in every metro station. As a young adult, I worked for Greenpeace at the national office in DC, and I used to drive those streets all the time. As a teacher, I helped students to study the design and architecture or many of the iconic buildings so they could make scale models for a class project. They wired them to light with bulbs and batteries and we created a “city of lights.”
Although I met my husband in Reno, NV we returned to the DC area for him to go to law school at Catholic University in 2001. Here is a picture of him in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
The first inauguration I remember was Ronald Reagan’s. I’m not sure if it was his first or second time in office. My mom took me and my brother so we could remember that part of history. I was young and not plugged into politics at all. But I do remember all the pomp and circumstance, the cold air outside, and watching as he and the First Lady passed us by on the parade route.
I met President Carter but didn’t go to his inauguration. I played Suzuki violin with his daughter Amy, and I was fortunate enough to meet the President and First Lady after one of our concerts at the Kennedy Center.
When President Clinton
was re-elected, I was temping for a democratic advertising agency in DC. My job at Greenpeace was moved to the international office in Amsterdam, and since I was a single mom at the time, it didn’t work out for me to go. So, I worked as a temp for about six months before going back to school to get my master’s degree. We celebrated at a bar in DC, but a few days earlier, I was able to sneak into MTV’s pre-inaugural ball at the Corcoran Art Museum with a friend. My girlfriend and I saw Joan Osborne at DAR Constitution Hall
. Remember this song
? After the show, we were walking to the car and saw people lined up on a red carpet with a white tent above the entry way into the museum. We wondered what was going on inside. It was obviously some kind of VIP event. After seeing people going back and forth to and from a van parked by a nearby door, we dared ourselves to go in somehow, just for the fun of it. We watched for a few minutes as people were getting gift bags from the van and taking them into the door. We walked up to the van, and they handed us some gift bags unwittingly. We went along with it, and we walked nonchalantly into the door, put the bags down on the table with the rest of them, and instead of going back outside to the van for more bags, we slipped in between people and mingled with the crowd. All of the sudden, we realized we were inside the party and began to act accordingly, getting drinks and snacks and socializing. Several reporters thought I was Jewel
, the singer/songwriter, and I laughed as I turned them away from interviewing me. We met several celebrities that night including Kevin Spacey, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Smits, and Chelsea Clinton
. What a fun night that was!
When George W. Bush
had his second inauguration, my husband was a new associate at a law firm in DC right on Pennsylvania Avenue. There was a big party that day, and we got to see the parade from the office windows (several stories up) after a catered lunch with an open bar. There were snipers on the rooves of the neighboring buildings. I remember drinking gin and tonics that day and had such a good view of the President as he walked by on the street, I made a wise-crack about him and realized I should probably have kept my mouth shut!
I’ve lived in Texas for the last two inaugurations. Four years ago, President Obama
‘s speech was inspiring, and it was amazing to watch history take place as our first black president was sworn into office. Four years later, I am equally as inspired to hear him speak today and was happy to hear him outline specifically some of the important issues we face as a country including equality and opportunity for all, safety from gun violence, education, energy, and climate change. Watching all the coverage makes me miss my hometown, and seeing all the buildings and familiar landmarks and streets makes me nostalgic about growing up and living so close to the nation’s capitol. The inauguration is a time to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power in our democratic society. I’m proud to be an American
. I’m grateful we all have a say in electing our leaders. We face many challenges ahead, but I hope in the next four years our leaders in congress will find ways to work together to solve our problems.
Inauguration Day 2013