WASHINGTON, D.C - What is a little good-spirited chaos among friends- two million of them? Barack Obama’s inauguration drew an overwhelming crowd to Washington D.C., but kindness and camaraderie found a place in the massive confusion.
It was a simple enough plan: exit the Metro, walk to the Mall, and find a jumbotron. It seemed even simpler on the quiet D.C. streets in the sunrise hours of Tuesday morning. But that simple plan was the same one millions of Americans shared on Inauguration Day; and by 8 A.M. when the gates to the Mall were scheduled to open, the streets of the capital were choked with a stationary mob.
Still, spirits were high and good will abundant as all manner of Americans squished together in a patriotic huddle.
“This is crazier than Lollapalooza!” said a young man thoroughly decked out in Obama garb.
As he spoke, an ambulance, all sirens and lights, rounded the corner of E Street headed straight for the crowd. When it reached the wall of people, it found no easy access- almost no access at all. It slowly plowed through as people on both sides sacrificed their last inches of personal space to make way.
The security line was long and slow; and despite the compact horde the biting January wind snaked its way through the crowd. Still people laughed and joked. One man climbed up on a cement barrier and led the crowd in a song to the popular tune of Bingo.
“There was a nation had some hope, Obama was his name-o!” he sang.
“O-B-A-M-A!” the crowd cheered.
Two hours passed and the security line had barely budged. The throng swelled clogging 12th Street for several blocks. No one moved or everyone moved. Then an older man hobbled through the mass with the help of a walker.
“Yeah I’m sorry I’m handicapped,” he said. “I wish I wasn’t too, but excuse me I’m just trying to get through.”
Immediately a path opened to him. The crowd unselfishly yielded that extra bit of space the man needed.
Eventually the crowds spread into the Mall in time for the ceremony. People blanketed the two-mile expanse. Some even climbed the trees for a better view. It was an excited mob, but no matter how eager every person was to secure the perfect spot to watch the inaugural ceremony, they did not forget to take care of each other. The masses affirmed President Obama’s inaugural words.
“This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath,” he said.