The chill wound its way through the millions of people I was surrounded by, sending a shiver through my jeans-clad legs. My camera was attached to my wrist, and my gloved hands were clenched in the pocket of my down jacket. The hat on my head was keeping the wind from blowing my hair in my face.
All around me people cheered and chattered happily. From a distance I could hear people chanting "O-bama! O-bama! O-bama!" President-elect (at the time) Barack Obama was just a speck in the distance from where I stood, peering through the throng of heads in front of me.
"Are you prepared to take the Oath, Senator?" Chief Justice John Roberts' voice boomed through the speakers.
I was told that the Bible that Obama rested his left hand on is the very same one that Abraham Lincoln used when he was sworn in. To think, Abraham Lincoln. He began the fight towards equality by freeing the slaves in the 1860's. Barack Obama, our first African-American president, being sworn in to the highest position in the country, when, less than 50 years ago, he would not have been served in a nice restaurant. It's amazing that we have come this far. In some ways, I am very proud of my country.
Roberts and Obama made it through the oath and Barack Obama was officially our 44th president of the United States. Roberts returned to his seat amidst the thunderous applause and cheering, as President Obama stepped up to the microphones. The crowd hushed in anticipation of his speech.
"My fellow citizens," he began, solemnly. "I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors." It must be mind-boggling, I thought, as he continued in his calm voice, reassuring us that change has come to America. All of the work he has to do. All of the problems he needs to help solve. It's definitely not my dream job.
As I listen to him explain how America needs to earn back our greatness and return to the country that we once were, I glance around at the crowd. No one is talking. There is an excited stillness in the air as people are drinking in his words of hope. I even see a few tears glisten in the sunlight. The people finally feel as though someone competant has taken the wheel of the country and will steer us in the right direction. I hope and pray that this is true.
He refered back to George Washington's words near the end of his speech, reminding us all what our forefathers fought for.
"'Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).'
"America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."
The crowd erupted with joy. Hands clapping as hard as they can, voices raised as loud as they can go, some people even jumping up and down, ecstatic that this new era has begun. President Obama returned to his seat, kissing his wife Michelle and his daughters Malia and Sasha and giving the podium back to the emcee (whatever her name was), who announced the benediction.
And the rest, as they say, was history. The crowd sang along with the national anthem, and I raised my own voice to the well-known words, attempting, but not succeeding to hit any of the notes even though I sing in a choir: "O'er the la-and of the freeeeeee, and the home of the braaaaave." And then, they were gone. The new president and his family walked back through the doors with the former president trailing behind. In just that brief 1/2 an hour, more history was made than in the full 8 years of the previous presidency.