Riding my bike through downtown DC on this inaugural day, I encountered road barriers in the form of police cars, military trucks and entire buses which kept cars outside of a perimeter circling the mall where Obama’s swearing in ceremony took place.
The hordes of people overflowing off the sidewalk and overall lack of car traffic made navigation easy on two wheels. Frigid hands nonwithstanding, I wove my way on bike through my second DC inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Under a muted gray sky and frigid conditions the mood was light. Groups of Military-clad men wished passers by good morning and I watched a child dance on a street corner as a band made up of a saxophonist and an overturned plastic gallon bucket kept up a lively tune and raised the spirits of the crowd.
Everyone was walking in all directions hoping for the best view, but often backtracking when greeted by fence barriers that didn’t look passable anytime soon. For the time, these check stations were open only to media. Taking in the scene, I stood on a grass berm overlooking a sea of heads that spilled en mass into and out of a metro entrance.
Back at the perimeter gate a growing line of people formed on and on away from any hope of entrance, others opted to find a place along the fence and look through. My view looked at the backside of bleachers that ran alongside Pennsylvania Ave.
While we couldn’t see much at our bend in the fence the crowd around me remained there, listening to the live radio broadcast. We were all able to stand and listen as the growing cheer from the mall approached and reached us. As we listened to the slight delay on the speakers live streaming the event as it occurred just blocks awa, I felt especially connected to everyone today braving the city to be there for the experience, for the history taking place here.
The President came on to the stage. Together with the rest of the crowd that took over downtown DC we stopped to listen his speech, sharing a new moment in history.
As his rich, confident voice rang clear and strong throughout the streets, I watched my fellow Americans react to the words he spoke. [Read the full text of President Obama's Second Inaugural Address here.]
Nods of approval and applause greeted a tribute to the pursuit of freedom in his recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. on this holiday devoted to the powerful civil rights leader. Obama’s nod to equality between genders followed by a poignant nod to gay rights received an increase in the gusto of the clapping around me. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
While Obama’s environmental address could have promoted education alongside sustainable industry, his overall speech seemed worthy of the enormous crowd that came to hear it.
As I rode my bike home through the thinning crowds, I saw American flags in the many different hands of those who believed in freedom and hope for a better tomorrow.