From The Archives: Inauguration Memories

[ Posted Thursday, January 20th, 2011 – 17:08 UTC ]

[Program Note: Two years ago today, President Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into office. Today, I was busy running errands and didn't have a chance to write anything, but two years ago I was on the National Mall trying not to freeze my extremities off, to witness this historic moment. So I thought I'd run the column I managed to write after the event as well as all the photographs I took while attending Inauguration Day. If you'd like, you can search my January, 2009 archives page to read all the columns I wrote about the highs and lows of Inauguration Week two years ago. I realize I could have marked the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech today, but I've already printed two speech transcripts in the past week, so I thought I'd take this route instead, to mark the halfway point of Barack Obama's first term in office.]


Twenty-One Howitzer Salute

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.]


My Inauguration Photos

[Note: This page is nothing but my photos of the Inauguration and our trip to see it. For those with slow connections or slow browsers, be warned it may take a while to load. Part 5 of the Inauguration story will be posted later today. Thank you for your patience.]


[All of these photos are Copyright © 2009 Reprinting or posting these photos is allowed, but only with proper credit and only to sites which provide content to the public for free. For reprint and copyright information, please see our Photo Reprint Policy page.]


Satellite Map Of Inauguration Day


Click image to see a large-scale satellite photo of where we were during the day.
[Note: None of the other images here are clickable to see larger photos, as there were so many I didn't have time to upload the large copies of them.]


The Day Before Inauguration Day


Air and Space Museum, from Independence Avenue on Monday. Tuesday morning, this is where we got barricaded out of the Mall.



The Mall, on Monday. Little did we know, this is roughly about where we would end up on Tuesday.



Porta-Potties, as far as the eye can see. This is just one group of Porta-Potties. Whoever did the bathroom planning did a good job, I have to say.



The MSNBC booth, where you could cram up to the edge and get on television. Hi, Mom!



Soledad O'Brien, from CNN, doing a live "standup" on the Mall on Monday.



The Smithsonian "castle" on the Mall.



Mounted Park Police. Because the Mall is part of the National Park System, it is normally patrolled by Park Police.



A picture is worth a thousand words. My commentary on the master plan for crowd control.



Another view of the Capitol, taken on Monday.



What I wore to "represent" California, under many other layers.



Candidate condoms! The asterisk text for each:
(McCain) "Approved for Veterans"
(Obama) "Smaller Sizes Available"
(Palin) "Hockey Mom Approved"


Inauguration Day


The crowd getting out of the Metro at L'Enfant Plaza, around 4:30 in the morning.



Our first view of the Capitol -- our goal is in sight!



The view from the first spot we found, just west of 3rd Street. Alas, this was not to be, as we are in the ticketed "Mall Standing Room" area, and were rousted out by the cops soon afterwards.



Chaos at 7th Street. This is the entrance to the Mall closest to the Metro station, which was shut down for no particular reason whatsoever, around 5:00 A.M. We soon left and found our own way onto the Mall.



Although it looks like it is snowing, it is not (trick of the light, and the lens). But it was certainly cold enough to snow, in the pre-dawn hours. Everyone desperately trying to stay warm.



Jumbotrons awaken around 7:00 A.M. with handy advice like "how to avoid the cold." Gee, thanks!



Skies lighten as dawn approaches. Crowd begins to stir.



Dawn finally breaks. If the Jumbotron soundtrack had been on top of things, they would have played "Here Comes The Sun" at this point, but (sadly) they did not.



Your humble narrator, trying to stay warm. Yes, that's really me inside there.



The true heroes of the day: milkcrates!



Our section of the Mall had one group clustered around the Jumbotron, and was for the most part empty elsewhere, as you can see.



Thanks to the Girl Scout and Boy Scout volunteers for passing out all the free flags!



Another shot at how empty our area of the Mall was.



Sunday's concert is replayed for us. Bono doing his thang.



Best zoom shot of the West Facade of the Capitol I was able to get.



President Bush is introduced. Not a lot of excitement from the crowd, you'll notice.



For contrast, this is a random Democrat being introduced. I have no shots of Obama (with every flag waving), because I was waving mine during these moments instead of taking pictures.



After the event was over, entering the 3rd Street I-395 tunnel on foot.



It had a very post-apocalyptic feel to it, I have to admit.



Inside the 3rd Street tunnel. This is where all those purple ticket holders stood in line, for naught.



Walking around the streets, in the aftermath of it all.


-- Chris Weigant

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


6 Comments on “From The Archives: Inauguration Memories”

  1. [1] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Thanks for the reprise of your Nanook picture, Chris. :)

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    Heh. On my errands today (which kept me away from the keyboard, sorry about that...), I drove with the windows open, while wearing a T-shirt. Ah... California...



  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    I was in shorts and a tank top yesterday here in sunny FL.. :D

    High temp was 77 :D


  4. [4] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Plbt to both of you. I have several feet of snow and a frozen HUGE lake up here in my ghost village. :)

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, that brought back a treasure trove of memories ... in more ways than one! :)

    I really love that scarf, by the way. Now, that's the very kind of scarf that would help to keep a poor Canadian warm and fuzzy all over ... especially one who just got back from Cancun - take that, Michale! - only to be greeted with blowing snow and windchill factors. :(


    Stay warm ... only a few months to go! :)

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:


    Don't get me wrong.. I would trade my 75+ days in Jan here in FL for a couple days of 2+feet of snow.. :D

    My son is in Alaska doing his fishing season.. I really envy him...


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