Felicia Del Rio/Herald Intern
A street near the Capitol on Inuguration Day 2013
As we all know, President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, was sworn into office for a second term yesterday. Whether you were present at the National Mall or watching it from the comfort of your home, history was made yesterday.
I had the fortunate luck to be a volunteer for the Inauguration, and to be present on our nation's front lawn. My morning began at 4 a.m. I woke up and then dragged my best friend out of bed. I dressed myself with layers of clothing. I was prepared for freezing weather. We made our way to downtown DC. When we got off the Metro that morning at Gallery Place, Chinatown, we were met by crowds of people. The sun was just rising and the streets were already filled with thousands of excited people.
We made our way through the barriers which took about an hour. There were U.S. soldiers securing the lines of people. I made it to my checkpoint, where I was told by my team captain that I would no longer be a way-finder, but I would now be crowd control. I was relocated to the National Mall. I was on Constitution Avenue and 7th Street. It was my job to ensure that people were filling up sections, and making use of the maximum amount of space. Due to my relocation, I now had a view of the jumbotron screen, where the ceremony could be viewed. My volunteer task wasn't too much trouble, and to my benefit there was a surplus of volunteers, so I was relieved early. My relief was just in time for the ceremony. So I rejoined my friend and we stood in the crowd among thousands of Americans.
With the sounds of the U.S. Marine Band in the background, over 100,000 American flags were dispersed through the crowd. For miles all you could see were American flags. There I was on the National Mall for a second Inauguration of President Barack Obama, the first African American President. I was so excited and thrilled to be part of making history. What made this experience magical was the silence that ran through the crowd when the President began his Inaugural Address. The crowds fell so silent that a pin drop could be heard. It was amazing how one man can tame a crowd with just his presence at the podium.
President Obama made so many great points in his speech. He received so much applause for many of his remarks. But one in particular stood out to me. The President said, "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." This statement made the crowd go crazy. This statement resonated with me so deeply because so many in home in New York, and across the Eastern seaboard are homeless and jobless because of super storm Sandy and then have those very few powerful and wealthy people who couldn't imagine what my fellow New Yorkers are going through.
Before the ceremony started, members of Congress, the Cabinet, and distinguished guests were announced. Being from New York, I noticed that Senator Charles Schumer was nowhere to be seen. I was a little disheartened by this. But then, the ceremony began and there was my senator, right next to the President of the United States. Senator Schumer stated the theme of the 57th Presidential Inauguration was faith in America's freedom. Senator Schumer was a big part of this Inauguration. He not only walked out with the President, he was the voice of the Inauguration, he was the host.
I am so blessed to have been part of this grand occasion. The voice of the President echoing throughout the National Mall is a memory that will stay with me forever.
Here's a recap for any new readers. My name is Felicia, and I will be attending the 57th Presidential Inauguration on Monday. I'm 22 years old and a senior at St. John's University in Queens. I am also an intern for the Long Island Herald.
My Inaugural road trip began yesterday morning. I plugged in my GPS and set it for Washington, DC. My drive was smooth I made it to DC in three and a half hours, record time.
My first stop was Inauguration volunteer orientation at the Walter E. Washington convention Center. I was forewarned that this orientation would be long. Long was an understatement. I arrived at the convention center at 4 on the dot, for registration. As soon as I entered the lobby, there were signs and staff directing me to an already long line. The wait wasn't long because I was entertained with the stories people were telling .
My fellow volunteers and I were filled with excitement. I met a woman from Atlanta, Georgia, who was originally from New York. People from all over the country had volunteered to be a part of this momentous occasion. Despite, the long lines, the distant travels, and large crowds everyone still had so much energy.
The theme of our orientation was fun and flexible. I had received my assignment. I would be a part of the swearing in team. I am going to be a "way finder" the day of Inauguration. What does being a way finder entail? Well, as my volunteer packet states, "Way-finding volunteers will help control the flow of attendees on the perimeter and other key areas surrounding the National Mall. " So basically I will be telling people where to go. I know that doesn't scream important, but I was reminded to be fun and flexible.