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Inauguration Journal

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Members of the group People to People lounge on the National Mall while waiting for President Barack Obama to be sworn in for a second term. The group has student "ambassadors" around the world and seeks to build leadership and global awareness through international travel. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins for Qcitymetro.com)

With more than an hour to go before President Obama was set to be sworn in, the crowd on the National Mall was huge. It stretched from the Capitol Building far past the Washington Monument, and people continued to swarm in.

On a grass-covered area out of the main traffic, a group of grade school children, all wearing turquoise knit caps, sat with their chaperones. The students had come to the inauguration with the group People to People, which brought about 550 students from every state in the union.

Megan Braly of Knoxville, Tenn., one the adult leaders, said People to People has brought students to at least the past four inaugurations. This year’s group arrived Friday and spent their days touring museums and monuments and listening to various speakers, including Mary Eisenhower, the granddaughter of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“No matter what political views you have,” she said, “on some days of the year, we all come together as a nation.”
~ By Glenn H. Burkins

Keeping the faith
With music playing and the crowd still filing in to face the Capitol building on the National Mall, Greg and Tonya Kimble noted it was on the other end of this historic ground that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Kimbles drove from Dallas, TX, to Washington, DC, to watch President Obama give his second inaugural address.

The couple said they saw significance in King’s message of opportunity for all and the fact that the nation’s first African-American president was being sworn in for a second term.

“You see hope, the economy turning around, people out shopping,” said Greg Kimble. “He has four more years; you can’t turn an aircraft carrier around in five minutes.”

Greg and Tonya said that during the next four year, they expect the economy to continue its upswing, and they expressed hope that Obama would accomplish the tasks he has set before the American people.
~ By Jordan Stutts

Cashing in on history
Just outside the National Mall, street vendors lined the sidewalks selling buttons, t-shirts and anything with the president’s face on it. “Get your Michelle Obama earrings,” one vender shouted above the crowd.

Jackie McCray of Columbus, Ohio, arrived in the nation’s capital at 3:30 a.m. to sell her various Obama buttons. She said she came with her sons, who began selling Obama souvenirs during the campaign.

McCray said the most pressing issues that Obama will face during his second term should be the economy, jobs, taxes and health care

Speaking on the significance of the inauguration taking place on the Martin Luther King holiday, she noted: “I think it’s a part of history, landmark history. I think it is a good idea to have the speech on this day.”
~ By Jordan Stutts
Determined to see history
Four years ago, when Obama was first sworn in, Amy (no last name, please) decided to stay at home.

“It was insane,” she said of the 2009 crowd, estimated to be at least 1.8 million people. “This year it’s far better.”

The Laurel, MD, resident who works as a physical therapists, didn’t come alone. She brought a niece and a nephew to witness the president’s second inauguration.

“We weren’t going to miss it again,” she said. “We never know when we’ll have another black president.”
~ By Glenn H. Burkins

Not expecting a quick fix
The National Mall was filled with a sea of American flags as President Obama began his second inaugural address. He encouraged the nation to finish the struggles of earlier generations by striving to secure individual liberties and equal opportunity for all.

Darcel Carter and Sareana Bouvier, who traveled from New Britain, Conn., listened closely, their eyes focused on a large monitor that showed inaugural events for those who where too far away to see what was happening live.

“I think his message was real positive,” Carter said afterward. “I think what he’s trying to do will help out. I don’t think it’s going to be a quick fix, but it’s going to happen.”

Carter and Bouvier, both students at Manchester Community College, said they believe Obama in his second term should take on strengthening the economy and curbing the rising cost of tuition.

The historical significance of the day spoke to the two as well. “I’m really excited to be here,” Carter said, “There is a lot of history here.”
~ By Jordan Stutts

Edwin Turnipseed, top row, poses with family at Lincoln Memorial. (Qcitymetro.com)

Debate Settled
Edwin Turnipseed stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, debating with his sister: Was this the place where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech?

Turnipseed said it was; his sister said it wasn’t.

Before long, the debate had ended – Turnipseed found a marker denoting the very spot where the speech was given. They all took pictures.

Turnipseed, who lives in Atlanta, said he and his wife came to the inauguration primarily for the benefits of their daughters.

“I get to actually show them some history in the making,” he said. “They’ve been excited about wanting to come out, so this is their first time here. So as a dad, I’m excited.”

Turnipseed said the day’s events reminded him just how far African Americans have progressed. But he also couldn’t help but wonder what boys or girls are being groomed to lead tomorrow’s generations.
~ By Glenn Burkins

Abade Stanley

A storybook couple
Of all the vendors we saw selling various merchandise bearing the faces of Barack and Michelle Obama – and we saw plenty – none appeared busier than Abade Stanley of Atlanta.

As the president was delivering his inaugural address, Stanley was stalking the National Mall carrying a canvas bag loaded with children’s books.

One book, titled “I Can Be Anything I Want to Be,” told the story of a boy named Joshua who dreams of being president, though friends and family members tease him. But after seeing Obama elected, Joshua finds new inspiration.

The second book, “I Am Michelle Obama,” tells the story of the first lady through the eyes of a little girl.

Stanley said that before he arrived in D.C. five days before the inauguration, he drove to New York to stock up on the books from a warehouse. He estimated he had sold at least 600.

The books are published by Tumaini Publishing (www.tumainipublishing.com) in Tucker, Ga. Stanley was selling them for $10 each.
~ By Glenn Burkins

Justin Heckelman, center, with friends

Paying tribute to King
A monument carved out of stone and overlooking the Tidal Basin is erected in remembrance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the cause of racial equality for which he fought and died.

Following Obama’s inaugural address, many tourists made their way to the memorial to reflect on the day’s events and the history behind the King holiday. One of them was Justin Heckelman, who drove with friends from Canonsburg, Penn.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to come down here and see it,” Justin Heckelman said of the monument. “It was a very powerful time and a very powerful movement in the 1960s.”

When asked about Obama’s speech, he indicated disappointment in the president’s first term and dismissed much of the inauguration address as “rhetoric.”

“I thought it was good, I enjoyed hearing it,” he said. “It was worth it because I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
~ By Jordan Stutts

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August 29, 2015
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