January 20, 2009 began early for me—as it did for so many others—at around 6 a.m. I’d love to say that I awoke to the sound of hope, or something equally poetic, but really it was just my cousin’s annoying euro-techno ring tone. But even waking up to “Axel F.” by Crazy Frog couldn’t crush my spirits—I had a ticket (a “blue” one!) to the Inauguration of President Obama. Turns out, though, that the ticket didn’t mean much.After enduring one of the worst metro trips ever, I arrived at the “staging area” where I had to walk for another 25 minutes because they had to close down various stations due to overcrowding. As I exited the station, I saw lines of people going towards the mall (what mall?). By “lines” I mean huge crowds pushing towards some “entrance”. Nobody I asked knew which ticket was for which line; some people didn’t even have tickets, but figured they could get in anyways.So my cousin and I waited in line for two hours. At 10 am the police, who had been completely absent the entire time, informed us—all four or five thousand of us—that each person had to be searched by hand. My cousin and I realized that there was absolutely no way that we would get through our gate which was to be closed at 11:30, because we were about three hours away from it. Apparently what had happened was that the Inaugural Committee, chaired by Dianne Feinstein, had drastically oversold the tickets.
We fled the scene because it looked as if some of the people were going to start throwing food at the police (they never did), and made our way over to another gate—farther away, but because of some sort of error was simply allowing a massive crowd to push through the police-surrounded gate. So we pushed and battled through the crowd of people, some of whom had sitting tickets at the front of the capitol and some without tickets at all, into the mall.
I’d like to take a moment now to say that I had a wonderful time at the inauguration—it was a truly magnificent event, including the cheers for Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma’s (previously recorded, but still amazing) quartet, the boos for Rick Warren and Dianne Feinstein, the muttering at Justice Robert’s utter failure at reciting the Oath of Office, and the tears when President Obama said “so help me God.” What a great moment for America.
It was not a great moment, however, for Mrs. Feinstein, because despite her best efforts, the Inauguration was still a success. Not even her horrible planning could dampen the enthusiasm of the millions who came out to see President Obama get sworn in. People will not remember the huge disgruntled masses, the horribly boring poem, or the bitter cold. We will remember President Obama’s speech, the tears running down hundreds of faces, and the hugs from random people. We won’t remember Dianne Feinstein in 30 years.
And we will definitely not remember Kanye West’s ridiculous mullet.