Jennifer and Curtis Parker braved the cold and long lines to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Like more than a million people, my husband Curtis and I went to Washington D.C. to bear witness to the inauguration of our first African-American president.
It was both awesome and trying.
The awesomeness came from being part of a sea of humanity, as far as the eyes could see. The trying part came from being a part of a sea of humanity, as far as the eyes could see.
Yes, you get the picture. The crowd was both inspiring and overwhelming.
It took hours to get on the metro, to pick up tickets at the Capitol, to get into the National Mall. To get back from the inauguration. To get around.
I now know what a million people in one place look like. I pray it is my last time.
The crowd was so thick and pressed together, it could have been frightening, but for the utter calmness and politeness of everyone. It was the most courteous and friendly crowd.
Everyone came to witness the moment, and it seems nothing was going to spoil it.
Strangers struck up conversations with each other everywhere, and with ease.
A woman and her two daughters from Pennsyvania said they were just going to get near to a Jumbotron [the huge screens on which the event was televised] on the National Mall.
“We just want to be part of all those people,” she said.
I was pressed shoulder to shoulder with people from across the country and across the world. I heard German and other foreign languages. Sometimes, the press of people was scary.
Everyone was there for one reason ¬– Barack Obama.
We all just wanted to get to the Mall so that we could bear witness to this moment of history.
We set out at 6 a.m. from our hotel in Baltimore.
Five hours later, we were still in a thick crowd outside the Blue gate, praying we would make it inside to be a part of the inauguration.
Our Blue tickets we actually very good tickets. Thank you, Congressman Hank Johnson.
We could have been right behind the seated area, but by the time we made it through the security checkpoint, all the best spots were gone, and President Obama was a speck in the distance.
People came from everywhere. Even in that big crowd, I ran into people from home. I saw Justin Frasier from the E2 Wireless Store on Flat Shoals Parkway. We looked at each other questioningly until recognition dawned.
I saw Omar and Erica Cash, who used to go to my church, First Afrikan Presbyterian, but now live in Virginia.
I exchanged pleasantries with people from Maui and Chicago and Tampa and Phoenix and Dallas and everywhere, it seems.
As Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. congratulated President Obama after he took the oath of office, I roared and cheered with the people around me -- white, black, locals, foreigners, old, young, healthy, infirmed.
I saw it happen. I heard him take the oath. But it was still surreal. Our great nation now has an African-American president – in my lifetime!
Forgive me, but I am still pinching myself.
_What does Barack Obama’s inauguration mean for you? If you went to Washington, what was the experience like for you? Post a comment below._