WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America, a new generation bore witness to the possibilities available to the nation’s youngsters today. Scattered across the Mall leading up to the U.S. Capitol, children of all ages watched the inauguration of a man who has become a testament to the miracles that can happen with hard work, education, and belief in oneself.
“People think that Obama is different because he’s African-American,” said Rosita Mathews, who took the train in from Maryland to participate in the inauguration festivities. “He is not different. There are millions of African-Americans who have gone to great colleges and great universities, and who are lawyers, doctors, ministers, and who have achieved great things. He is not an anomaly. He is simply what could happen if you just get a chance.”
Mathews is herself an example of someone who was given a chance where her predecessors were not. Mathews, who was originally from Michigan, attended the University of Michigan and Princeton University, before settling in Maryland. President Obama’s inauguration is a particularly poignant moment for Mathews, as Obama represents the opportunities that did not exist for her own mother and grandmother.
“Today, I brought a picture of my family – three of whom are not alive anymore,” said Mathews through tears. “I brought the picture to hold up, because my mother would have been so happy to see Obama as president. She only graduated from high school. She was very smart, but she only graduated from high school.”
Mathews’s grandmother was similarly deprived of any further education beyond high school. But despite her relatives’ hardships, Mathews sees Obama’s presidency as a sign that such times have changed.
“My grandmother was also a very smart high school graduate from South Carolina,” said Mathews. “So, this is just a day to sum it up. It’s about possibilities. And not just possibilities for African-Americans, but for all people.”
Linda Morales also hopes that her two children, B.J., 14, and Lindsay, 10, will be inspired after witnessing President Obama’s inauguration in person. Morales, who traveled to Washington from Laverock, Penn., wants her children to realize the importance of the moment.
“This is a historical moment,” said Morales. “I hope my kids realize that America really is a great country. It’s taken a while, and we’ve had a lot of challenges – and we still have a lot ahead of us, but all in all, we live in a really great country. And they should be proud to be Americans.”