For my birthday this year I wanted to go to President Obama's second inauguration. I had just finished some very grueling (and quite dreadful!) cancer treatments earlier this month so even though it would likely be exhausting for me, I knew it would be a spectacular way to celebrate my birthday and the end of my treatments. My husband, Mike, took me; and our two kids helped out enormously to make my wish come true.
Some of the niftier moments actually came before the inauguration. After we got checked in to our Arlington motel room the afternoon of January 20th, we thought it'd be fun to take a practice run on the Metro into DC. We decided to go to Metro Center and then walk to McPherson Square (because we’d be going to McPherson on the 21st). As we were strolling to McPherson and taking in the sights, we passed Rev. Al Sharpton! I said, “Al Sharpton,” when we were about two feet from him and he responded with a pleasant “hello” back to me. He was dressed pretty spiffily and was walking very quickly, so I’m sure he was headed for one of the inaugural events that evening.
Washington Post journalist, John Kelly. He actually wrote a very nice piece--about Mike and me going to DC for the inauguration--included in this article: “Obama’s Second Act Draws a Smaller But Spirited Crowd” (there are snippets about a variety of people who traveled to the event ... the portion about us is on the 3rd page).
transcript of his inaugural speech.
This extraordinary trip that Mike and I took was managed on a very tight budget. Even though it was my birthday present, we didn’t have a lot of extra cash to spend. But between an overnight stay at a Residence Inn by Marriott (which was very nice; so thank you, Mitt Romney--who is once again a member of the Marriott International Board of Directors), the gas, the Metro tickets, the toll road fees, and what little we spent on food--since we took bread, peanut butter and snacks with us--the entire cost of the trip was only about $400. We spent the night before and the night after at our daughter’s apartment in Pittsburgh, so we saved a lot that way. We definitely got our money’s worth and it was the best birthday present I could wish for; although I said the same thing when we went to President Obama’s first inauguration, too--which was the day before my birthday in 2009.
Oh, and speaking of being on a budget, we didn’t buy many souvenirs. The Residence Inn actually gave us a ‘goodie’ bag with some souvenirs in it, so that was a pleasant surprise! But I did purchase a Washington Post newspaper as we were walking up to the parade entry point. I could have bought a NYTimes or a USA Today; but I was counting pennies and decided I should buy the paper from the city I was in, and I’m glad I did! It turns out that about a half hour after we got in to the secured area, we met up with John Kelly (pictured with me above) and I got his autograph on my brand new paper! He actually had a witty column in the Washington Post that day which offered some uberly dubious ‘quick tips for inaugural tourists’ followed by a serious plea for inaugural visitors from the rest of the USA to urge our representatives to give DC residents equal rights and eliminate the whole “taxation without representation” disparity for the District. John was a good sport about giving me his autograph and letting me take pictures of him, so I wanted to include a quick plug for his article.
Was it a cheesy souvenir? You betcha! But it was only $1.00 and a fun way to end an amazing and very meaningful trip to our nation's Capitol for the momentous occasion of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.