Inauguration: Obama 2.0

After the election I briefly entertained the idea of going to Washington DC for the Inauguration.  As the vote count dragged on to decide my Congressional representative thus complicating getting tickets, and knowing the high price of airfare, I decided that I would take a pass.  Then the weekend after I returned from New Zealand I got a call from Harriet asking if I wanted to go with her and 25 middle schoolers from Humboldt County to Washington DC for a whirlwind blitz on the sites and the Inauguration.  I said yes!

As a rule I do not travel with groups, and there were occasions when I thought, “Yep, this is why I do not travel in groups.” Then again I would have missed sharing the thrill of students flying on a airplane for the first time, or learning to take Metro.  Their energy boosted mine and made the cold bearable.  Also, I was not in charge!  Brian Lovell and others were responsible.  I just had to act like an adult.

We did have an insane itinerary designed to make the most of every minute in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.  Some of the highlights included Antietam Civil War Battleground. We had a great tour guide but I could not agree with Gary that the largest loss of life, ever, in the history of the U.S. was worth it because they were fighting for our freedom.  The Civil War was a tragic waste of life. And this battle seemed particularly insane and an opportunity lost (thanks McClellan, not).

Tragedy hard to imagine

Horrific battle amongst a Dunker pacifist community.

We went to many memorials on the mall.  I was thrilled to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. monument.  It is moving and it was crowded since it was MLK Jr holiday weekend.

Standing in the shadow of great first lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Standing in the shadow of great first lady Eleanor Roosevelt

If I had not gone with the Humboldt crew I would never have gone to the much bigger Smithsonian air and space museum near Dulles airport.  It is amazing: space shuttle, planes galore, and an observation tower. Did you know that the space suits are made of kevlar (bullet proof material used by FBI, soldiers, etc.) to protect them from flying objects during space walks?

cool space suit

cool space suit

Hopefully the students were able to connect the dots between the Mt Vernon information about our first President George Washington’s commitment to regular elections and a peaceful change of power. He was determined that the young United States would be a role model of democracy in the world.  Then we watched this in action at the Inauguration, albeit, not a change of power. Nonetheless the Supreme Court Justices, all of the Congress members were there to celebrate our democratic process.  Here’s a 5 minute video to give you a taste.  First, grab a couple of ice cubes out of the freezer and hold them in your bare hands so you can get a better feel for what it is like…

When President Obama won the election and I thought about going to the Inauguration I assumed that it is a once in life time experience. After the ceremony we took our frozen selves to the Longworth Congressional Office Building to enjoy hot chocolate and cookies at Congressman Jared Huffman’s reception.  I sat in the hearing room with my hot coffee and watched this newly elected Congressman and his family talk to the students, taking pictures with them (with my hat and scarf so he would “fit in”) and sign their tickets. And I thought “I may be back again when Tevis is a newly elected”.  And now I know, thanks to the woman flying with us from SFO to Dulles, to have my dry cleaner ship my ball gown and, from personal experience, that there is no such thing as too many warm clothes.

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