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I Went to Obama's Washington Inauguration


Claudia Eastman is a California Journeywoman who claims that travel keeps her sane. She's a film and television location scout who always keeps our Journeywoman website well supplied with wonderful travel tips. When Claudia wrote to tell us she went to President Obama's inauguration, we asked her to share her experience with everybody in our Network. Here is the result. Thank you, Claudia.

When Barack Obama won Ohio, I phoned my college chum Mark and said, "Remember how you and Dan have been begging me to visit? I'm coming for Inauguration Week."

Yes, I'd been caught up in the jubilation when I phoned, but as the night wore on in California, the more resolved I was to go.

I'm a baby boomer. Grainy television images of Sheriff Jim Clark's dogs attacking marchers on "Bloody Sunday", Alabama Governor George Wallace's segregation rhetoric, and armed troops in Arkansas attempting to block black school children from enrolling at Central High are imprinted
snippets in my memory.

Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th President of the United States was historic. I wanted to see Barack and Michelle in the White House. I was going.


Washington Monument...

I hadn't visited Washington D.C. in 25 years and the first thing I wanted to do was to go up in the Washington Monument. It had been closed in 84.

I rode into D.C. on the metro light rail with Melissa Merli, a reporter for the Champaign Illinois News-Gazette who was also a houseguest. We'd both purchased 'special' $20 passes imprinted with a picture of Obama and after a 20 minute ride from the E. Falls Church, Virginia station, we got off at the Smithsonian stop. When we got to the Washington Monument a sign said, "All tickets sold." It wasn't even 10am. How could that be? A Park Ranger approached and I pleaded, "Can't we go up?" "Absolutely," was the reply. "Free today." "Go on in." Such charitable emotion was prevalent that week. You could sense jubilation. I begin to refer to the atmosphere as BarackStock.


Lincoln Memorial...

After descending from the Washington Monument we walked toward the Lincoln Memorial. We could hear music and suspected rehearsals were taking place for the concert. We were right. John Mellencamp was singing the refrain "Ain't that America" from "Little Pink Houses". Right there in front of the Lincoln Memorial! How prolific!

As Melissa headed off to find folks to interview I made a plan. What would be more profound than to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and watch the first African American to be sworn in as President of the United States of America?









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