Today, side-by-side with Americans, Europeans enthusiastically celebrated Barack Obama’s inauguration on the frigid National Mall of Washington D.C.
They weren’t just excited for Obama, they were enthusiastic about what his presidency meant for their countries.
“[Obama’s presidency] will be good for American/French relations,” said Pauline Jeannerot, 22, of Paris, France.
Jeannerot, who traveled to Washington D.C. by bus from Maryland, said the inauguration was an historic moment. “In 30 years, I want to tell my kids I was there for Barack Obama’s inauguration,” she said.
In the shadows of the National Mall’s large JumboTron and the Washington Monument, Charlotte Falko, 23, from Aarhus, Denmark, eagerly waited with her three friends for Obama to take the stage.
“Barack is a huge icon in Denmark… all of our friends are so jealous we’re here,” said Falko.
She hoped Obama’s presidency would be beneficial for all of Europe. “All the countries in Europe are hoping we have better relations with America,” she said.
Falko’s friend, Katrine Kaegaard, said, “We think [Obama] will actually listen to what we have to say.”
Kaegaard, 22, likes Obama more than her own Prime Minister, Anders Fogh. “[Fogh] is too conservative. He is best friends with George W. Bush.”
Kaegaard describes Obama as intelligent and progressive, and she isn’t the only European impressed with the new American leader. Anna Ruester, 25, from Celle, Germany wishes more leaders in Europe were like him.
“Obama can actually change people…he is so energetic. Our Chancellor, [Angela Merkel], is too narrow-minded,” Ruester said.
Ruester also disliked George W. Bush. “My whole country disagreed with Bush’s politics,” she said. “We’re all excited about someone with new ideas. Hopefully, [Obama] will be able to end the wars Bush started.”
Ruester, who moved to America last March to become a horse trainer, woke up at 4 a.m. to catch the Metro train to D.C. “My whole family is liberal and they would have killed me if I didn’t come. I think it would have been a shame to miss,” she said.
Ruester wore an oversized, green jacket and brought hand warmers to fight off the cold, but she still found herself frustrated by the large crowds, lack of signs to direct her to the National Mall, and freezing temperature.
Eventually, she made her way to the National Mall and burst with excitement. “This is so special.”
After Obama’s speech, Ruester beamed with joy. “I knew he was a good speaker before but that was really, really good, “ she said. “You should be proud of your president.”