It isn’t every day that I get to say I was in history.
And I’m not talking about my history of eating more Philly cheese steaks than I should or foregoing sleep for video games.
Just two short days ago I was one of many lucky UR students who got to hop on the bus and ride to Washington for the inauguration of Barack Obama. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones who had the idea of going. I was just one of a few people in a massive crowd that rivaled even a ‘Harry Potter” release. I braved the cold and waited in line for over five hours to get through security.
Did I say braved? I meant I was lucky I didn’t freeze my ass off. For some reason I thought an extra shirt and my fleece would be sufficient.
I was wrong, which I doubly noted as a security guard stopped me to ask me where my winter coat was and a total stranger awarded me the bravest guy of the day award.
Of course, that was my fault. But the long, crowded security line wasn’t. See, for the four gazillion people there, they had four metal detectors. It was kind of like trying to drink the ocean with a straw, dig a hole with a toothpick or eat anything at all with chopsticks.
Surely, you catch my drift.
Well, we are in a recession, after all.
Several of our friends left the line after five hours, only to find we were in the wrong line.
I did not find this out.
I wasn’t going to leave a line I had been in for five hours. Even when the generator powering the metal detectors went out (they put it in the crowd and somebody must have tripped the wires… go figure), I stayed put.
Finally, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I found myself headed toward the National Mall.
Well, I would have. It turns out we were in the parade line, as my friends who enjoyed the ceremony from the comfort of the mall let me know later. So I was a little bummed that we couldn’t cross the parade route to the mall.
Regardless, the streets were lined with optimistic Americans, and people cheered as President Obama took the oath of office.
And I got to be there.
Now, with a two-hour break before the parade, I found a cozy Burger King to thaw, refuel and ultimately take a nap at a table. Before you start calling me Grandpa, remember it was now well into the afternoon, and I had been up since 3:30 a.m.
Nap in tow, we went back to the parade route. Excitement gathered as the parade formed, the moto-guard drove by and bands roared.
Then, the moment of truth arrived. President Obama drove right by me in his nice black car. I got to see him, not through a jumbo-tron as my friends at the mall had, but with my own two eyes.
As I left the security check point, a street vendor peddling Obama paraphernalia caught my eye.
He was yelling to the crowd, ‘I was here and so was you.” It was those words that stuck with me.
Despite almost catching hypothermia (my fault) and horribly planned security (not my fault), I got to experience history.
It was worth it all when, during the parade, President Obama drove right by me in his limo and waved to the ecstatic crowd. It was amazing to know that I was a part of that crowd.
I was there for history and couldn’t be more proud to have voted for and experienced (then wrote about on my iPod on the ride home) the greatness of America first-hand.
Now that is something you just can’t get from CNN.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.