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I might be a little insane, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now than here in Washington, D.C., for Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities. Yes, it’s bone cold, terrifically crowded, expensive and a little crazy, but I needed to experience this piece of history in the flesh, not just on CNN. As my new friend (we spent two hours together on the shuttle yesterday) “Fur Coat Lady” says, “I wanted to be a part of the mix.”
My goddaughter and her parents have joined me from the UK for the events. (When I figure out how to load video, I’ll show you their video explaining why they made the long trek.) We’ve succumbed to the rampant consumerism and bought several commemorative items (my dad NEEDS that plate) and even paid $5 to take a picture with a cardboard cutout of Obama (capitalism is still alive and well). We also toured the newly renovated American History Museum and saw the Star-Spangled Banner and Dorothy’s ruby slippers. The Smithsonian museums all have extended hours…and clean bathrooms.
The highlight of the day was the “We Are One” inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial featuring Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar, Garth Brooks, James Taylor and John Legend among others. Stevie Wonder did a fun number, and Beyonce did a nice job with “America the Beautiful,” but why Jack Black was a speaker, I have no idea. U2’s rousing “City of Blinding Lights” and Obama’s speech brought the biggest cheers. Ok, so maybe I wasn’t that close and had to see the whole thing on the JumboTron, but there was something electric about being there among the diverse, shivering, hopeful crowd.
If you’re curious, the Metro has been running efficiently so far. The workers have been infinitely patient with all the out-of-towners, helping us buy tickets and steering us the right way. Still, Sunday’s crowd–while mind-boggling–is apparently nothing compared to Tuesday’s test.
So, I’m off to conquer the city for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. President-elect Obama, in his Renew America initiative, is urging everyone to join a service project today. Find an event in your area here.