Inauguration 2009: Weekend of Destruction Day 4
Ah Inauguration Day, a day that started for many in the wee hours of the morning. For me I value sleep a little more. However I did have a plan to be on The Mall for Inauguration and I’m happy to say everything worked out relatively well.
At 8:30 AM my friend Carrie and I proceeded down to the Clarendon Metro stop to check out that option, if everything appeared all right a possible entry route was to simple Metro into a station and walk to The Mall. While that option was the simplist it was also one of the most popular and I expected to see the Clarendon stop overflowing with people as we walk the short two blocks to the station.
I was surprised to see the station empty, like it regularly looks on a holiday in the morning. The station appeared almost inviting as we walked but we decided against it, we wanted to check out one more option I thought up.
My secret, dark horse plan to get try and get on one of the Metrobuses running special routes to The National Mall. I figured that buses would have no problem getting over the closed bridges and roads, and that the Metrobus would be a less popular option, and thus possibly less crowded. I was wrong.
We started to walk down Clarendon to check out what the bus scene was like. We got out answer when a packed Metrobus drove by the bus stop we were at. Others at the bus stop heard from others that the buses weren’t even stopping in DC as planned. Instead they were dropping off patrons at Rosslyn. At that point we decided to give the Metro a look before plan C- walking all the way.
We continued walking down Clarendon to Court House, I was happy to see that there were hardly anybody at the station except a few other celebrators. The Metro was running trains at rush hour pace so each train was only 2 minutes apart. Good thing because when the first train showed up it was absolutely packed, with no chance of anybody new getting on. We were lucky that the next train had some space for us at the end of the train. We rode it all the way to Foggy Bottom.
We had to wait a bit on the way to the station because Vice-President’s motorcade was traveling by and they temporarily closed the station. Excitement filled the car when the conductor passed along the news.
From Foggy Bottom we made a quick bee line to The Lincoln Memorial. The plan was to just get to The Mall and once on the ground, figure out how far up we could go while still getting a good view of the Jumbotron screens.
As we exited the station we saw a Vienna train arriving, traveling away from the city. It was quite a sight to see the packed train unload opposite an empty one.
As we made our way to The Mall, it was cool to see the road closures enforced by the National Guard, a little bit cooler than the usual Metropolitan police. When we arrived we were greeted by happy and excited volunteers wearing red hats. Once at The Mall we saw that everything appeared to be open to the Washington Monument. I was expected crowds reaching the World War II memorial at this point, so I was excited and quickly made my way to get a spot.
Some people decided to sit on the steps of the Lincoln and enjoyed the Jumbotrons left standing from the concert, which was playing on the screens. We made our way to the Monument to U2 and it was awesome.
Once we reached the Washington Monument we saw that we reach pretty much the end of the line. Everything past the Washington Monument looked like a sea of people. So we just found a nice open spot to view the Jumbotron and got ready for the ceremony.
I was a geek and I wanted to try and call my mom- cell phone reception was spotty as expected but I was able to get a call through.
The Inauguration ceremony itself was great. There were lots of funny moments such as when the audience was told to sit (obviously meant for those with tickets and when Rev. Rick Warren said, “We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.” He added some extra emphasis on Sasha’s name.
All the former Presidents, Vice-Presidents, and even Speakers of the House were on hand. Everybody booed anytime George W. Bush was mentioned. I got some video and it was quite the scene. It was also weird but still sinister to see Dick Cheney in a wheelchair. It appears that he pulled his back moving- why didn’t he have movers take care of that job? It’s not like he doesn’t have the money.
The audio wasn’t all that great on The Mall but we were able to hear the moment everyone was waiting for: the oath of office. The crowd rumbled with glove covered applause when it happened. I thought the muted clapping was funny.
After the address the escape began. We made our way past Independence heading towards Eastern Market. The plan was to have lunch and watch the parade from a much warmer locale. The street closures left Inauguration goers with lots of space to make their way. At one point I was on 395 south walking in the middle of the highway. It had that post-apocalyptic feeling.
Unfortunately I under estimated the crowd in thinking they wouldn’t make it all the way to Eastern Market, but they did. All the restaurants on 8th street were crowded and the station was already over flowing. We walked over to Northeast but we found nothing but a ghetto.
We ended up back in Eastern Market and managed to snag some bar space at Cafe 8 and we watched the parade and enjoyed a well deserved lunch. It was sad to see Kennedy carted off during the Inaugural lunch, as a Massachusetts native I hope he’s ok. Joe Biden was a class act, choosing to walk the rest of the route and really hamming it up with his smile and pointing out of people he must of knew.
The escape back into Virginia was painless, after all the walking, eating, and parade watching, crowds died down and we rode an empty train all the way back.
It was a fun weekend to celebrate a historic event. The day after I was talking about the Inauguration with a co-worker who offered the smart-ass comment, “so you basically saw what I saw.” It really got under my skin. Why did I decide to go out? Well besides the point everyone else was doing it, I really wanted to say, “I was there.” Others can say they were with their family or their closest friends, I can say I was there and I was with 1.8 million people. Neither chose is right or wrong, there are just different and “where you were” when it happened is simply an individual choice every makes, much like a favorite color or movie. And despite all the cold, walking, and hassles I endured, I’m glad I made it.