Scenes from the Presidential Inauguration

My personal view of Inauguration Day 2009 in New York City:

We walked by the florist on Tuesday morning and Charlie pointed out the balloons, red, white and blue. I had wanted to make an American flag cake for the kids, but I didn’t have appropriate food coloring. The balloons seemed perfect, non-sugary but festive. I bought a big bunch; one for each of Charlie’s friends and one for each of his teachers. We had a happy bag of red, white and blue latex helium that we floated one block to the federal building. When we got inside the classroom, everyone’s faces lit up. “Happy Inauguration Day,” we said. Charlie and I released the balloons in a big swoop, and the kids squealed and jumped and laughed.

Then the assistant director came in and said she would have to collect the balloons because they were a choking hazard.

Boo.

That put a damper on things, especially since the kids are almost three and I’m not sure how balloons that immediately floated to the ceiling can harm them, but…whatever. They each got to take one home, and several parents said the balloons worked to keep the kids entertained during their commute.

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At Trinity Church they had Jumbo-Trons.

I snagged a pew early on, and beat the financial folks who filled the place at eleven.

The D.C. crowds, miles of people lined up in the mall, made my whole row ooh and aah.

The lady next to me said, “Doesn’t this,” indicating the church, “make you feel you’re an extension of that?”

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m warm, and sitting down.”

“And you’ll be able to leave easier, too.”

We laughed. But in a nice, empathetic way.

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President Obama said, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus—and non-believers.”

Someone in the back said, “Thank you! They never reference non-believers.”

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When the swearing in was done, the crowd yelled, jumped to their feet, clapped, hollered, and waved American flags.

(I have video, but I still have not completely figured out this Linux computer. I will add it later.)

It was almost like New Year’s in Times Square.

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We said the Lord’s Prayer.

We sang the National Anthem.

We ended with the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The beauty of our voices raised in celebration made me cry in happiness, just a little bit.

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The bells rang at the church for three-and-a-half hours.

(I have a short video of this, too, but for now, here is someone else’s clip of the bells.)

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Later that day, when I returned to CW’s class to start the trip home, the first thing his teacher told me was that the whole class got to watch the Inaugural ceremony, too.

On the 6th floor, the kids sat in chairs and clapped every time President Obama came on screen.

It seems Charlie lead the “O-bam-a! O-bam-a!” chant.

I don’t know where he picks up things like that….

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Charlie and I made popcorn and watched the Inaugural parade on CSPAN. There were people in tiger suits, ladies with flags, big tubas and horse-drawn carriages.

Charlie told me to clap whenever President Obama came on screen.

I obliged.

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Guilty secret: I cared more about Michelle Obama’s fabulous fashion choices than I should have, and I thought the Obama girls were adorable.

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Why did ABC buy the rights to the Inaugural balls, and then mostly show celebrities?

Boo.

At least they interspersed their lame coverage with short, somewhat relevant interviews.

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When the reporter questioned Michelle Obama’s decision to let her daughters stay out of school the day after the festivities, I finally turned the channel.

“They could go late,” he said, referencing her decision to send them to school the day after the election.

They could, she said, but we’re having an open house for the public and I felt it was important for them to see that, to be there.

I’m glad I wasn’t her, having to politely defend my parenting decisions as if they hadn’t been fully considered in the first place.

I might not have been able to keep my slap-happy hands to myself.

0, ABC. 1, Michelle Obama.

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This new presidency, with its promise of transparency, compromise and preservation of the rights of every citizen, gives me a feeling that is difficult to describe.

Perhaps I am whole-heartedly proud of my government, and my fellow Americans, for the first time in a very, very long time.

Perhaps living under free-market-loving, social-program-hating Republicans felt a great deal like oppression.

But, most likely, this feeling is hope.

In an America that votes out those who steal from the public trust and votes in someone who claims he will change all that, perhaps we can truly have a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people.

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