Akron students witness Inauguration firsthand

“The official temperature reached 30 degrees but wind chill hovered around 15 as over 2 million people swarmed to our nation’s capitol to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The inauguration drew visitors from California, Great Britain and even the University of Akron.”

The official temperature reached 30 degrees but wind chill hovered around 15 as over 2 million people swarmed to our nation’s capitol to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The inauguration drew visitors from California, Great Britain and even the University of Akron. Students, faculty and staff drove and flew to the D.C. area in order to witness the inauguration of America’s forty-fourth President.

Charlotte Batties, a graduate administrative assistant in the Department of Education, followed Barack Obama from the beginning of the campaign trail to his inauguration in D.C. I never was interested in politics until I heard Barack’s speeches. Barack motivated me to get involved in the campaign, and when he won the general election I thought, ‘I have to go. I have to be there,’ Batties said.

After the election she worked to get tickets and made travel arrangements to visit the capitol. She stayed with Steve Fitzhugh, an Akron native and resident of the D.C. area, and enjoyed her time sightseeing and attending the opening ceremonies. Her emotion was evident when she expressed her gratitude to her host for taking the time to show her the Lincoln Memorial, the Frederick Douglass’ and Arlington Cemetery.

While others stood on the mall far from the stage, Batties’ tickets allowed her to sit near the reflecting pool and gave her a very good view of the swearing-in ceremony. She described the environment as, excited, anxious, overwhelming. There were older people crying.

President Obama’s speech especially moved Batties. Awesome speech. Also, it was change in the making. He was giving a message to the world.

She said that the most striking moment of the speech was his message to the other countries. His statement to different countries was to choose a closed fist or an open hand – that impressed me.

This message of cooperation marked Batties as a new presidential statement and one that she sincerely hopes will be continued. It was a break from the past. It can’t be my way or no way. We can be different but we can come together.

As Batties heads back to Ohio, she does not leave her experience in Washington D.C. as a distant memory. She is answering President Obama’s call of continual service. She is a member of an organization called The Bottom Up that is currently in meeting stages but that she hopes will develop into something inspirational for the community.

While the lucky few had tickets to Tuesday’s ceremonies, most college students did not. Dave Robinson, a sophomore political science student, drove with his friends to Washington D.C. for a historic road trip. Robinson attended the opening concert and the swearing-in ceremony. As a political science student, Robinson noted the rarity of watching the parties come together for one event. It was exciting to see the country come together.

He listened to the inauguration far from the stage and said that, I couldn’t believe the diversity of the crowd. Everyone was there.

He said the general crowd had a stronger response to the ceremony than those in the ticketed areas who seemed more reserved and disinterested.

Robinson described President Obama’s speech as, The most moving speech I’ve ever heard in my life. His message was on-target and opened up the minds of Americans that change will take time. He acts like a buffer and is linking Americans back with the government.

The crowd that he was a part of had a stronger positive response but also a stronger negative one – to the former President Bush. Robinson described the majority of the people’s response as negative and shocking. Faint choruses of hey-hey goodbye could be heard as President Bush was introduced on-stage.

The college democrats had a sizable presence at the inauguration, and did obtain tickets. Allison Rochford, the president of the college democrats, drove to Washington D.C. with five other members. The unity of the crowd and the way strangers enjoyed each other’s company surprised Rochford.

Corey Duncan, a freshman social science student, exemplified the dream college experience, rented a car with his friends and drove the seven hours from Akron to see this memorable event. Duncan described many attendees sentiments when he said, I just love listening to him speak. His voice just gives you hope.

The crowd and the unity also excited Duncan. He even got the chance to be on CNN and MSNBC and crowd surf a giant beach ball. More important than the chance to be on television was the personal meaning of this inauguration. It felt good to see someone with such power. Like when your parents say ‘You can be President someday,’ it might not be such a complete lie.