November 24, 2014
Around the big top

Witnessing history is what you make it

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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Posted 1/28/09

As I was planning my trip to Washington D.C. for the Inauguration last week, I seriously underestimated how much chaos would arise from 2 million people being in the same area at one time.

And understand when I say chaos, I don’t mean fights, arguments, rude behavior and rioting. I actually didn’t experience any of that, only a spirited debate between two Texas natives, one who rooted for the Cowboys and one for the Texans.

I mean chaos from 2 million people all going to the same place for the same reason; the chaos from moving slowly and never having enough elbow room to feel comfortable; havoc from having to wait in a line that stretched for blocks, whether it was to receive my inauguration ticket on Monday or get to my ticketed section on Tuesday; insanity of piling into a packed train or shuttle bus – you get the point.

Reflecting on the experience, there were two ways I could look at the trip.

I could feel slighted that even though I had a ticket, I still watched the ceremonies on a jumbotron, which unfortunately had a few tree branches blocking some of it. I could say I was cheated since I never got into the Michigan Delegation Open House, to which I was invited, since it took longer than I hoped to get a ticket, thus meaning I didn’t get to meet the hosts of the party – Governor Granholm and Lt. Governor John Cherry – or Senators Levin and Stabenow, who more than likely attended.

Or I could reflect on the situation differently. I could say that the high spirits of others in attendance, most who weren’t even as fortunate as me since I had a ticket, made me feel happy just to be there. Or if someone asked how my time was, I could say that being in the crowd and hearing firsthand the roars from the crowd when we saw Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton was truly exciting. I could admit I got a laugh out of the “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” choruses that were sung when Bush II was shown on the screen (even though I, personally, didn’t feel it was necessary and agreed with the old woman next to me who exclaimed “Ain’t no need to boo him, he on his way out!”). And of course, I can remember how excited everyone was when we saw Obama’s limo arrive and saw the man who will lead us for at least the next four years approach the stage with a look that showed he was calm, confident and proud.

And most of all, if someone asked me if it was worth it, I could tell them about how amazing the crowd’s response was when Justice John Roberts asked “So help you God?” and Obama smiled and replied “So help me God” and the crowd went nuts as the cannons and 21 gun salute echoed through the nation’s capitol.

Hopefully by now, you can see which way I will reflect on this once in a lifetime experience.

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