I’ve been struggling to think about how to describe my experience at the inauguration. I’ve gone through the pictures and videos trying to piece together a description that would accurately encapsulate what I experienced on my adventure, but I’ve come up lacking. Not that there isn’t tons to describe, but the palpable energy and emotion I felt is truly indescribable. However, fueled by my desire to inspire those who watched my journey from afar, I wanted to attempt to explain.
As far back as I can remember I have been thoroughly passionate about the topics of history, government, and politics. It began in earnest when I was in the fourth grade and had a teacher named Mr. Heggan who taught us about American History and Government. With every new topic, my interest was piqued, desiring to learn more and more about how our country was built and how it worked. Then when I was in junior high school, I had a teacher named Mr. Dorsey who fueled my passion even further by enlightening me about the global perspective and how the United States fit within the world network.
I also remember my first trip to DC in the eighth grade. While other kids were goofing off, I was in awe of the American History museum and couldn’t get enough of the monuments. As we walked past all of the buildings, I was in my own world.
When I was in college, I participated in a program at Georgetown University called the Institute for Political Journalism. I took courses at the university, worked at Radio America (conservative talk radio station), and was able to immerse myself in the culture of Washington, D.C. I often joke that DC is my Hollywood because seeing a politician or other political figure is more invigorating to me than perhaps running into Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. That time I lived in DC cemented what I already knew in my heart.
Fast forward several years…
Standing there on the National Mall, with 2 million of my closest friends was invigorating. It was as if we were all one big group of family and friends getting together to celebrate a birthday or bar mitzvah or wedding. Yes it was cold, but we sang and danced along with the performances on the jumbotrons broadcasting Sunday’s concert. Yes, there were millions of people. For those that watched on television, think of those images and multiply it by 10…that was what it was like in person. Watching flags flying, people waving, and hearing the cheers and laughter…priceless.
However, it was not about the cold or the security or the waiting in line. It was about the people, the emotion, and, I’ll borrow the popular term from the campaign, it was about hope. In a time when all seems lost, we came together to celebrate. To celebrate? What do we have to celebrate? We have our pride, our diversity, and our hope.
The one theme running through the whole time I was in DC was the feeling of hope, pride, and joy at the prospect of starting anew. It wasn’t about politics or the economy or even race, the inauguration about getting back to knowing who we are as Americans. The trip was a whirlwind, full of emotion and excitement. The pictures and videos can only reflect a fraction of that. Truthfully, I didn’t need to take any pictures or video for me because I believe I will remember that day for the rest of my life.
As I watched the sun set on that day, I stood looking at the monuments that dot the cityscape of this historic and powerful town. I paused to soak in the atmosphere of the marching bands playing a few blocks away, the cheers and laughing, and the smiles on the faces of those who passed. I wonder how I will remember this day five, 10, even 50 years from now, but in that moment I was proud and inspired, not politically, but personally. That day meant so much to so many people that they rearranged their lives, stood in the cold for hours, waited for everything, just to get a glimpse.
I am thankful that I had the chance to share in that experience and I hope that I can live up that ideal we were all there celebrating…being proud to be an American.