Yes, I was there. The idea was hatched among a group of my MIT friends back around the election in November, and we went ahead and bought our train tickets and set up our accommodations way back then — actually on the eve of the election. Luckily, that did not jinx things, and I was there on the mall with about 2 million other people to see Barack Obama get sworn in as our nation’s first African-American president.
The day started for all of us at 4:00am, as we awoke in Andrew’s grandmother’s living room. We stumbled through a quick bite to eat, and then down to the bus stop. It was nice that we were right at the end of a bus line, so there were no crowds or difficulty getting transportation to the mall. The bus got us as far as Dupont Circle, and then we walked the rest of the way. It was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and we arrived on the already-crowded mall at around 6:30am, ready to wait another 4.5 hours for the ceremony to begin. It was cold, crowded, long and tiring, but it was worth it.
I was a part of history, along with the millions of other people standing there with us watching on the huge jumbotrons and listening over the loudspeakers. At the moment the presidential oath was read, there was an outburst of joy like none I had ever been a part of before. There was a nice, older black couple next to us who had driven up all the way from Alabama and were crowded into the masses with us and at the moment it became official there were high fives and flag waving and hugs all around for everyone. To say it was a special moment would be the understatement to end all understatements. Definitely something I’ll be proud to hopefully tell my grand kids about someday.