Inauguration, Part Two

I am reprising a post that I originally wrote on January 26, 2009; it was my reaction to President Barack Obama's first inauguration. I will most likely post more reactions to the second inauguration later this week, either here or in my Journalistic Writings, Two and/or Life-in-the-left-hand-lane.

"I watched last Tuesday's historic inauguration of Barack Obama during a Visual Communications class. About ten minutes into class, the instructor asked if there were any questions.

"Yeah, can we watch the inauguration?" someone asked. It was the question on everyone's minds.

A computer hooked up to a projector came on so we could watch.

I've watched my share of inaugurations on television, been aware of others. When one has lived over five decades, one does notice a few things.

There were many historic aspects to this inauguration, though. Of course, there's the obvious: the first African-American to become elected president. Backing up to the election, it became clear early on that the Democratic nominee would be a first: either the first African-American or woman as a major party's nominee. That alone seemed to get many people's attention.

Then there is the number of people who flocked to Washington, D.C. to watch Obama's inauguration in person. According to The New York Times, "An estimated 1.8 million people watched the inauguration of Barack Obama in person, the most for any inauguration. At least that is what the mayor of Washington said; the Park Service, no longer in the head-counting business, won't contest that number."(1) (Referrenced footnotes at end of today's blog.)

According to The New York Times' article's multimedia segment, 44,000,000 people watched on their computers using live streaming web videos. This broke down to 26.9 million watching CNN, 9.1 million on MSNBC and 8.0 million on AP. (2)

These are record breaking numbers. This alone would indicate interest. I do know that those around me were excited. Almost everyone I spoke with over the days surrounding the 20th mentioned excitement, hope, a sense that our collective lives had taken a turn for the better. Yes, there are nay-sayers, but they seem to be in the minority.

When Obama was sworn in, those in the class room cheered. We watched President Obama's speech in its entirety. I mention this because the speech ended at 12:30, fifteen minutes after the class ended. Only one or two students left at the end of the class period; the rest of us watched, enraptured, at history taking place.

My oldest son, Jason, lives and works in Knoxville, Tennessee. He does phone tech support. He told me that an older African-American lady named Anne works there. Everyone calls her Ms. Annie. She works part-time; as a part-timer, she doesn't always get to sit in the same place. But she usually tries to sit next to Jason.

Tuesday morning, Jason managed to save a place for Ms. Annie so she could sit next to him. Just before the inauguration was to take place, Jason and Ms. Annie left their phones, along with several other employees, so they could watch Barack Obama sworn in.

"Tears just rolled down Ms. Annie's face," Jason later said. Ms. Annie told the small group watching the inauguration that her father had been beaten up years ago for not crossing the street fast enough to let several whites pass, that he'd been hurt several times because of his skin color. "She told us, 'And now, we have an African-American president.' I wish my daddy were alive to see this."

So do I, Ms. Annie. So do I.

(1) "Streaming Onto the Mall, and Into Laptops," by Brian Stelter and Noam Cohen, January 24, 2009; Week In Review;,%202009&st=cse

(2) "