Well, I’m finally thawed out and ready to report on the Inauguration!
The day didn’t, quite, go according to my plans, but it was a good experience, nonetheless. My group left from the University of Rochester at 8pm on Monday. We traveled through the night on three chartered buses and arrived in Largo, Maryland around 4am on Tuesday. Luckily, I had my own row of seats so I could sleep comfortably on our trip. At 4am the metro station was already very busy and so we didn’t wait and we went into the city right away.
We arrived in Washington, D.C. at 4:30am. When we arrived, we realized just how cold it was going to be that day. It was absolutely freezing! The wind was howling, and I believe the temperature was between 10 and 15 degrees. Imagine standing outside for 12 hours in that weather. The experience was one I wouldn’t have missed, but the weather was miserable.
After our attempts to warm up with hot cocoa, we made our way to the National Mall to take our spots for the event. From where we were standing, we had a very good view of, both, the Capital and the viewing screen. At about 7:30am, we started taking pictures, and I had trouble turning on my camera. I couldn’t understand what the problem was, since I had two sets of charged batteries to use. I wanted to try new batteries, so I split up from my group in search of a vendor who sold them. I honestly believed that I’d be able to run out and pick up batteries and then make my way back to the group. Wow, was I wrong! When I realized leaving the Mall would be a bad idea, I called another group from school to pick up the batteries. Then, we could meet and watch the event together. The group found the batteries, but never found me. We tried very hard to meet up, calling each other every few minutes for an update on where we were, but the crowds were just too thick and we couldn’t find each other. Thus, I was alone in a crowd of 2 million people, and I didn’t have a camera to document the event.
The actual Inauguration was very exciting to see! There were people around me crying and shouting and saying the occasional “Amen.” It is definitely something I will remember for a long time to come.
The event brought many different types of people- older people, younger people, and people of different ethnic groups and cultures. I didn’t expect there to be such camaraderie within the crowd. When I was trying to make my way through the mass to find my group, the people around me said they’d help me find my group if I found out exactly where they were. By that point, cell phone service was hard to find and I couldn’t get in touch with my group. A man said to stay with his group, and even though I felt alone, I really wasn’t because I had his group. They were very kind and comforting throughout the event.
After the Inauguration, I made my way back to the metro station. I spent time in Washington, D.C. over the summer and so I was familiar with the area, which proved to be very helpful. When I reached the metro station, there was a line of (I’d say) 6-8 thousand people. I waited in line for about a half hour before I spotted some other students from the University of Rochester. I was so relieved and joined them to wait in line for about 3 hours longer. We got back to Maryland safely and boarded the bus for the long ride back to Rochester.
Overall, I’m happy I went on the trip to the Inauguration. It was an experience I will not forget. On Wednesday afternoon, I saw a girl who also came on the trip and I asked her if she had a fun day in Washington, D.C. Her response was,
“Fun?! Not quite. It was freezing cold and there were more people than I’ve seen in my life and ever wish to see again. Fun isn’t the right word to use. It was memorable.”
My thoughts exactly.
Since I did not get to take pictures, a few of the other students on the trip sent me their pictures. Here are some of my favorites…