'I was there when...'
Last Tuesday was one of those day that, probably, later when I recount the story, I'm going to forget how cold, windy and long my day turned out to be. Instead I'm going to remember how wonderful I felt to watch the events unfold, amazed at the spirit and drive our country is capable of achieving. With 2 million people attending, (the population of D.C., is 500,000), our whole country and the rest of the world had their collective eyes focused on the Capital. In other cities and countries, crowds this size are reserved for sporting or religious events. But not this day and not here. We as a country came out in a record numbers to take part in the peaceful transition of democracy. A democracy copied by some, and envied by many because of our capacity to continue to grow and adapt, to change our leaders peacefully without having a coup. In the end this was just AMAZING, plain and simple.
'I remember when I saw the President.'
This was the third inauguration I've covered - each one a bit different, and my assignments for those days as various as the circumstances surrounding the elections. On January 20, 2001, I covered protesters on foot in downtown D.C. who attempted to disrupt the inauguration festivities along the parade route. Back then, we had not yet experienced the attacks of 9/11, and in retrospect those opposing the outcome of the election were fairly calm.
In 2005, I followed President Bush as a member of the travel pool, on a flatbed truck in his motorcade. While waiting to snap a picture of him walking down Pennsylvania Ave., there were raw eggs being thrown at his vehicle. The crowd looked much more hostile, causing members of the Secret Service to surround the limo and speed up their pace. People came out that day to show their displeasure for Bush's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
'Tell us again what happened on that election night in Chicago? '
I was in Chicago on November 4th to witness the election of Obama, and the city's celebration of a South Side Senator's elevation into the most powerful office in the world. I smiled when I snapped photos, perched from a riser with the longest piece of Canon glass I have ever used, because I am from the South Side and like Barack, I am also a White Sox fan. That's corny I know, but I can't make this up. I looked around at the people in Grant Park, the different faces, ages and genders, and America was looking back at me celebrating. People hugging, smiling and a whole bunch of them crying.
Welcome to a brand new day.
'I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm clock to a house full of friends.'
I'm always going to remember where I was on Tuesday, January 20th, 2008, or Inauguration Day. I keep reminding myself that I had witnessed 43 greeting 44 at 1600 Penn. -translation from DC-Speak -outgoing President George W. Bush shaking hands with incoming President Barack Obama at the White House. It was something I'd never seen before in my 15-plus years as a photojournalist - and mind you, I've seen a lot in my career. Here I was watching the transition of the Presidency of the US. I remember reading about this in countless history classes in school, but reading it is one thing, watching it happen ten feet away is completely different. Seeing Obama and Bush pose with the First Ladies at the North Portico of the White House I was reminded how normal both couples looked. What I mean is, our country has no kings - we elect regular people to be our leaders, and on January 20, 2009 the country watched as a man by the name of Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.