I have experienced a handful of out of this world fantastic things in my lifetime thus far. I spent Easter in Rome and went to Easter mass with the Pope in the Vatican. I spent St. Patrick’s day in Ireland. And this past weekend, I spent my twenty third birthday with some great friends in Washington, DC to ring in President Barack Obama’s next four years
My birthday, January 20, falls on the presidential inauguration every four years. I was itching to take a trip and thanks to the great Martin Luther King Jr. was granted a long, three day weekend. And so I reached out to some of my best friends from my study abroad time in Ireland and we made a plan. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday this year, the official swearing in took place in private in the oval office. The public inauguration took place on Monday, January 21st and my friends and I made the crazy decision to take part in it all.
Thousands of people grouped up in front of the capitol building in the early morning. Justina, Lauren and I made our way to the National Mall by 8:45am and waited for the exciting ceremony to begin. It was tough waiting, but we spent the time switching off sitting down, instagramming photos, gossiping, and doing serious people watching.
Around 11:00am an especially giddy group of volunteers passed out flags to everyone in the standing area. And as our nation’s leaders began arriving, the crowd became more and more vibrant waving flags and cheering loudly.
All politics aside (Ha! As if that is possible when writing about the Presidential Inauguration), it was a thrilling, inspirational day. To me, the air was thick with the united, patriotic breath of thousands and thousands of people. To me, it felt that political parties were not important but that there was a unified commitment to moving the country forward. To me, it was a once in a lifetime experience where my love for my country was magnified beyond a measurable figure.
If you find yourself with the opportunity to go to Washington, DC for the inauguration of our next president, I urge you to do so. It will be a weekend filled with crowds of people, with traffic jams, and with road closures. But it will also be a weekend that I believe will remind you how lucky we are to be a part of this great country.
SOME QUICK HIGHLIGHTS: President Barack Obama’s speech was extraordinary. In my eyes he has always been an exceptional public speaker, but on this day he was bold and direct with his goals. Watch his speech here. Read full transcript of his speech here. Beyonce’s National Anthem was magical (lip-syncing scandal or not, the woman is a talent). Watch her performance here. Obama taking a final look back at the crowd. I thought it was such a genuine moment where the president truthfully respected and appreciated the people that believe in him. Watch it here.
if you’re lucky enough to have been at President Barack Obama’s final inauguration, you’re lucky enough