By now you’ve seen many images of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama in many forms. Television, videos, photographs, magazine and newspaper accounts all neatly packaged and nicely presented. Ready for primetime. The promotion of democracy at it’s very best.
What you don’t see is the journey of the people whose flag waving images fill the National Mall and presidential parade route. Over one million individuals traveled to the nation’s capital for an outdoor event in January that lasted just about six hours.
What you don’t see are those people walking for miles along with hundreds of thousands of others to witness history. There is no other way to get to the Mall other than walk. Many of those taking that journey, were in wheelchairs being pushed along by friends or family members, some hobbling along on crutches and canes, some whose breathing is aided by oxygen tanks.
What you don’t see is the hospitality of the people of the Washington D.C. who host the festivities every four years. Shop owners who allow people come in to use restrooms, to get out of the cold and/or to sit for a minute. Scores of volunteers who are up as early as 5:00 in the morning in frigid weather acting as cheerleaders congratulating the people as they (finally) reach the Mall. The hundreds of vendors from all over the country selling their souvenirs. The museums that remained open so people can stop by and take a tour.
What you don’t see is the heavy security. The snipers atop buildings, the police and their dogs, the military presence. All there to make sure there are no problems. So much order amid so many people is amazing. There has never been an incident.
What you don’t see is the effect of the realization that the on the very same ground you are walking upon stood soldiers fighting the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It is where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. One can overhear parents telling the stories to the youngsters.
People came to Washington D.C. from all over the world to be a part of the historic event. Old, young, black, white, brown and tan. The people who did not wait for a formal invitation because they knew none was needed.
What you did not see was everyday people doing an extraordinary thing. Why, because we know we may never see this day again so we went to Washington (and took the kids) to be able to tell the story to future generations.