By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
TUESDAY -- My friend Jared and I woke up at 6:30 this morning to get ready for the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States.
As we walked outside the door of our hotel, there was a steady stream of people coming from everywhere. As we turned one corner and then another, the crowds of people continued to get larger, everyone making their way to the capitol.
|NEWS 9's Charles Bassett in D.C.|
Along the way, we ran into vendors selling all kinds of Obama souvenirs. I have enough of those, but I did pay $10 for some earmuffs.
The walk to the capitol took about an hour. All of the streets around the capitol were blocked off. We had tickets so we were pretty close to the capitol... but not close enough to actually see what was taking place in the VIP section. So we had to catch it all on jumbotron.
The crowd behind us stretched all the way down past the Washington Monument. It was an incredible sea of humanity. I was amazed that one individual could attract so many people. It was very cold... we waited for two hours for the events to begin... and another hour after that once the ceremony started.
The ceremony was great... the music... watching the dignitaries steam in. Aretha Franklin was fantastic. And then to see President Obama taking the oath is a vision I will never forget, nor do I want to.
After the ceremonies were over... Jared and I made our way back to the hotel... getting lost along the way. The cold was finally starting to get to us... and our feet were hurting bad. But we kept our eyes on the prize and got to witness what we came here to witness.
As I reflect back on today's events, I'm reminded of all that African Americans have been through in this country... especially my own family. I grew up in Mississippi in the 60's and early 70's. My parents fought for civil rights so that I would have a better life. I never thought that I would see an African American president in my lifetime. Well, not only have I seen it... my parents are still alive and saw it. My father's mother is 97 years old and my mother's mother is 87... they also got to see it. I am so glad to live in this country and be and American at this point in history. That's why I traveled here. Not only to witness history, but to be a part of it.
For that, I will forever be grateful.
MONDAY-- This has been one of the most exciting days of my life. I'm attending the inauguration of Barack Obama... the nation's first African-American President.
Getting here wasn't too bad. My flights were on time and everyone was very friendly. I flew from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis and then from Minneapolis to Washington D.C. I sat by a really nice couple from Minneapolis. They informed me that former Vice President Walter Mondale was also on our flight. I got a glimpse of Mondale while in flight. I was going to try to take a picture with him but he was gone by the time I got off the plane.
I'm here with Jared Ramos... a good friend. He traveled here from Beaumont, Texas. After we checked into our hotel we had to rush over to Rep. Mary Fallin's office to get our tickets to the inauguration. We will be watching the swearing-in from the side flanks of the capitol. We will be close... but standing the entire time. That's a lot better than some of the people who didn't get tickets. Some of them will be one to two miles away.
We did a lot of walking around on the National Mall. We saw a lot of the big names in TV news doing their stuff... Keith Olbermann, David Schuster, Pat Buchanan, Chris Matthews, Gene Robinson. We also saw a lot of vendors selling all kinds of Obama trinkets. We bought 3 Obama Inauguration buttons for $12 only to find out later the word "inauguration" is spelled wrong and the button says "commander and chief" instead of "commander in chief". Yeah, the newsman was had!
Despite the cold temperatures here, there is a feeling of good cheer in the air. Everyone you meet is kind and smiling and are in a very festive mood. I've seen all races, men, women, old, young... even some from other countries who have come here to witness this historic moment in American history. What a great day this has been. Tomorrow will be even better... I will keep you posted!