Inauguration 2013: Witness to History

Wallace Harmon and Connor Jang

On Jan. 21, 2013, we witnessed history. Leaving the craziness of the Inaugural Ball at 2 a.m., we walked through the freezing cold D.C. night along the paths of the Capitol Mall toward the beacon that is the Lincoln Memorial.

Exhausted and colder than we two native Californians had ever been, we sat alone at Lincoln’s feet and thought on our whole experience.

Fifteen hours earlier we stood near the front of the estimated one million people who had come Washington to hear President Barack Obama take his oath of office and deliver his historic second inaugural address atop Capitol

Hill. Hundreds of millions more people at home and around the world watched on television. But, thanks to Jang family connections, we were there right in the middle of it. The entire city was celebrating for the inauguration.

Flags were on every street corner. Streets were closed for a half mile radius around the National Mall. Banners draped every building congratulating the President on his reelection. Luckily we had all forms of tickets and passes to get us into to the week’s festivities and events. The Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, National Archives, Smithsonians, and all of the monuments were open for visits, and we took full advantage, visiting almost every landmark.

Then came the inaugural events. We watched the 57th Inauguration from the National Mall, then retreated to the sides of Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade. Finally we donned tuxedos to go to the Inaugural Ball. The ball was filled with musical guests like Brad Paisley, FUN, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, and Alicia Keyes. It was estatic end to the serious day with all the feelings of historic impact and exhaustion being let loose to the songs of Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys. It was almost goofy and stupid like a high school dance. The inauguration fell on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the connections of the day’s importance was obvious. Two days before the ceremony, residents in Washington gathered at the National Mall to participate in the National Day of Service to honor Dr. King and his legacy. President Obama took the sacred oath with his left hand on Dr.

King’s personal Bible and then one step further when he used Lincoln’s Bible for the unofficial event. In his spectacular 19 minute address, the President reiterated King’s belief that all men are created equal. Though its been half a century, and we’ve made countless social advances, we still haven’t achieved Dr. King’s lofty and noble goal. Millions still go hungry every night. Thousands still lose their job everyday. Hundreds of students, moviegoers, shoppers and kindergarteners still lose their lives. With the first term in history and the second term already under way, President Obama has incredible challenges to conquer. He faces an overwhelmingly

Republican controlled House of Representatives, Iran’s increasing nuclear ambitions, an ever-unstable Middle East, immigration and tax code reform, and an ominous debt ceiling debate.

The President said it himself, that he cannot do it alone. The United States of America needs to rally behind a leader to pull them through our anguish and strife, and the coming challenges. Regardless of being black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, man or woman, the country needs to come together for a future.

Our future.