Twenty-One Howitzer Salute

[ Posted Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 – 17:55 UTC ]

As usual, the first official recognition of our new president was a twenty-one gun salute. By field artillery.

Now, I have heard howitzer fire in Washington before. I heard a military band perform the "1812 Overture" -- properly, as it was originally written -- with cannons used as percussion. [Incidentally, this is something I highly recommend to any who have the chance to hear such a rare performance.]

In other words, I know what it sounds like. But the amazing thing to me is that the crowd was cheering so loudly after our 44th president was sworn in that it was all but impossible to hear the cannon fire. I do not exaggerate -- even though they ran it through the monstrously-loud sound system.

The crowd was so ecstatic in making a joyful noise that it almost completely drowned out electrically-amplified artillery fire.

That summed up the day, for me, more poignantly than anything else.

May Barack Obama continue to overwhelm America in just such a fashion, for years to come.


[Program Note: I have plenty to say about today's events. I have plenty to say, but I do not have plenty of energy to say it tonight. I got up at 1:30 A.M. and nearly froze solid waiting, from 4:30 A.M. onwards on the National Mall, so I would have a good seat for history in the making. But it will all have to wait for tomorrow for me to truly do it justice. I apologize for the delay.]


-- Chris Weigant


2 Comments on “Twenty-One Howitzer Salute”

  1. [1] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:


    I watched the inauguration on a projector-screen at work. The screen usually has informational slides or a sports event on it, but there's never any sound.

    Today was the first time the call center has ever put the sound feed though the PA system. A nice gesture (though the channel they picked was, of course, Faux Noise).

    Most of us stopped taking calls for the oath of office. I was one of the unlucky ones who still had a call going on when Roberts flubbed it, but I could still hear. The call was just finished when I heard, "So help me God" -- and the place exploded in cheers, applause, and whoops. The call floor can get loud but it has never, ever been like that before.

    Mind you, the janitor's been unscrewing light bulbs to save electricity, and we're using two-ply toilet paper. They're looking for any excuse to fire anyone. Last week they laid off eleven people and asked the rest of us to voluntarily switch to part-time. And this is a huge, mega-company that thrived in the Great Depression.

    A thousand miles away, anxious as hell about our jobs, for just a minute...we were there.

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OsborneInk -

    In keeping with the brevity of this column, I offer only the best thing I heard that historic day. It's only three words long:

    "We HAVE overcome."


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