An American Moment Like No Other

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He has been called a socialist, elite, too black, not black enough, inexperienced, presumptuous, a long shot, un-American, even a terrorist. But today he is simply called Mr. President.

Unbelievable as it sounds, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And of course, I had to be there. And we traveled in style. Change has not only come to America, but I got a new car.

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Once again America can lead by example. Many people in other countries, such as England and France, can not imagine an African minority in their country ever being elected to the highest office.

Just as significant, the most reasoned, balanced, intelligent and thoughtful person was the one to assume office. Democracy somehow worked this time! This is a clear break from the past of partisan, ideologically and theologically based ignorance and fear that has been the norm for too long. Sanity, reason and real compassion has returned to the White House along with the first African American president.

This is why some two million people (the largest crowd ever in DC) converged on the Mall in Washington, DC and some 2 billion people around the world watched with a collective sigh of relief.

And it began with a concert and ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. A fitting place for the first African American President (also a tall lanky man from Illinois) and the same spot where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. A dream indeed fulfilled!

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There were many great stars and musicians there including Tom Hanks, Denzil Washington, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder and of course the band to play right before Obama spoke – U2. True to form Bono reminded the then President-elect and the world, “This is not just an American dream, it’s a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream – and a Palestinian dream” You tell ’em Bono!

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Contrary to his socialist label, it seemed that the Obama presidency has spawned a plethora of entrepreneurs selling everything Obama throughout DC.

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Even Obama at the beach buttons.

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And “Yes We Can” cookies at Union Station.

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The night before, the excitement was in the air as the whole mall was lit up in anticipation.

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Tuesday morning people were everywhere. They came to witness history, such a diverse crowd of happy if not cold people – all 2 million of them!

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They came from all over the country and the world, the rich and powerful and meek and humble. With so many people it was amazing to hear later that there had been no arrests the whole day.

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And then the moment was upon us – “I Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…”.

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And then we cheered, hollered, cried and hugged loved ones and total strangers. It was great to be there with Gretchen and my good friend Jeff.

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And a little while another thing to cheer about – the exit of Bush! Good bye and good riddance!

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And at the White House, somebody new was moving in as the sea gulls celebrated and the bands prepared for the parade.

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They lined the streets and building tops to see the new President and the beginning of a new era. We were fortunate to get a spot right behind the White House across from the Presidential viewing stand. They told us it couldn’t be done (be at the swearing in and see the parade) and we replied – Yes We Can!

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Lots of pomp and circumstance preceded the presidential procession.

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And of course Joe and Dr. Jill Biden.

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Ladies and gentlemen the First Lady and the President of the United States of America, Barack and Michele Obama!

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Yes, that is the Commander in Chief.

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Godspeed Mr. President.

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14 Responses to “An American Moment Like No Other”


  1. 1 Randall Hill January 26, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Peter:
    I was there and tried to get over to the parade but got caught in the piles of people. You were lucky to go to both.

    Check out my stuff at randallhill.org/webblog

    My galleries in my posts from the inaug are linked from ones I did for the paper.

    Wish I would of ran into you there. I was on the opposite side of the reflecting pool from you on Sunday although I walked over to that side before the concert started. On Tuesday I was just in front of you and ahead of the CBS booth. The CBS booth is in one of your photos with the Capitol building in the background. My brother and nephew and I were standing just in front of the booth.

    What a glorious day

    I like the new car.

    Randall

  2. 3 Salmonking January 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Great photos Pete. It was great to share the experience with you and Gretchen! Jeff

  3. 4 Mark Chilton January 26, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    So beautiful, Peter! Great work!

    It was a truly American moment.

  4. 5 Lenore January 26, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Awesome pics, Peter!

  5. 6 Michele January 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    At least I could be there through your eyes, George. Thank you.
    I decorated the front of our snow banks with red and blue balloons and streamers so there were parade-like decorations on River Road in Hollis, Maine on Tuesday!

    My heart was in D.C.

    I can FINALLY take the anti W sticker off our mailbox!!!!!!!!!

  6. 7 Bobbi & Antonio January 27, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    What a great post and your photos, Peter, you were so close! Nice to know you were among that carpet of happy people that surrounded our new President and welcomed him, as we watched happily, surrounded by snow. I felt really proud that so many Americans were there too see this miracle, though we couldn’t be there. 2 million people. That’s half of New Zealand’s population.

    Hope to see you soon. We have a life size Obama cutout we can dance around, maybe a party is coming soon! Love, us

  7. 9 Billy Kurz March 12, 2009 at 7:25 am

    This is magnificent, Peter! Am moved, once again and regularly over the past 100+ days to realize we as a nation have not simply ‘mailed it in’ but have come out to do whatever it takes to really effect change not only in our own lives but in those for our children, friends and neighbors, both near and far. Thanks for sharing your beautiful album and thanks for making my dear friend, Gretchen, as happy as I have ever seen her. Peace to you both, my brotha.

  8. 10 jim turner April 21, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Peter,

    It takes an independent voter a long time to get acclimated to the new regime and yet I sincerely enjoyed the Washington trip pix.
    Let’s not lose touch.

    God bless you,

    Jim

    P.S.: I sent you web to my sister Marg in Phoenix who loves the new first family.

  9. 11 Margaret Fitzsimons April 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks to my brother Jim in Buffalo, I was lucky enough to enjoy your exciting and inspiring pics. You are a gifted photog! I actually took the day off work that day so as not to miss a moment. Inauguration Day was SO big, that to simply be ANYWHERE in D.C. would have worked for me. That day was one of such intense joy with the onset of our long overdue new beginnings! Your photos bring it all back… thanks for sharing your moments in time and your insight. Well done.:-)
    Margie Turner Fitzsimons

  10. 12 fotorocket April 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks Margaret. Your brother is s good guy, for a conservative…8-)

    P

  11. 13 Sparky September 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

    How’s that Dope With Change workin’ out for ya?


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