I missed the first one. When Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as our first African-American president with an agenda that I believed passionately in, I watched history unfold on a flat screen.
I was not going to miss the second time around. In fact, to make sure I gave myself the most memorable of experiences, I chose to go to the Capitol as part of a radio broadcast team, giving me the kind of 20-feet away access that laypersons – and even fellow journalists – would only dream of.
We arrived in the middle of the night and I honestly did not know what to expect. Would this be the moment of a lifetime? Or would this be, as all the pundits were claiming, a disappointing repeat with less people and less enthusiasm and less meaning?
Let me say this: Folks turned up to be a part of the 2nd inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama with hope in their hearts and a dream in their eyes. America was alive that day in Washington, what makes us great pulsed through the men & women, boys & girls, young & old who had to be exactly where they were in that moment. Exactly where he was.
“We the people,” the president proclaimed over and over, not just as a patriotic turn of phrase, but as a unifying call-to-arms that, still, a few days later, I can’t shake the promise of.
“With the Bush inaugural we were the 1%,” an African-American Secret Service veteran remarked to me. Staring at the wonderful plurality of the crowd in front of us both, with proud black and brown faces everywhere, he did not want anyone to underestimate how special that was. His 4th inaugural, he clearly remembers looking at the nearly all-white crowd that showed up not that long ago.
“And it probably would’ve gone back to exactly that if Romney won…”
His voice trailed off, but the thought didn’t linger, because our President, our own Black Shining President, just emerged to take his oath in front of us all…