Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I was at the national mall yesterday for the inauguration. It was crowded and amazing. I made it there without too much trouble, including awhile spent on a metro platform trying to get out of the station with thousands of other people, singing "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." I ended up just about as close as I could have, considering that I didn't have a ticket. I was in that fourth clump back from the capitol reflecting pool, just past 7th street. And I could see one of the jumbotrons pretty well. The inauguration was moving and of course historic, but I think the most touching thing was the turnout and the joy among those of us watching, happily shoved up against each other. We were a happy mob - peacefully jumping over fences to get into the inauguration or chanting "move that bus" as we tried to leave en mass. I'm glad I went.
I also went on Sunday to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. It was, if possible, more moving than the inauguration. There's just something about a giant crowd singing "This Land Is Your Land" while swaying and meeting each other. And since it was longer, there was more time to set the history of the moment through presidential quotes, famous singers, and shots of the memorial itself. They also showed clips of past important meetings at the memorial - Marian Anderson and the MLK March on Washington.
There were about 750,000 people on Sunday and about 1.8 million yesterday, making yesterday the largest gathering ever on the national mall. And some people were turned away (though it looks from the satellite photo like there was room, I believe it was all fenced off). The police, army, national guard, metro police, etc. were visible, but not always so good at directing people to the right route. Still, I think the city did a good job, considering. I wonder if understanding the Natural Algorithms that caused the crowd to create those clusters would help in the future.
My city has been celebrating in a unified, gleeful way. And now I'm excited to see what President Obama will do. And excited in general every time he's called "President Obama."