May 2, 2009

100 Days

I can't believe that it's already been 100 days (plus a few) since the Inauguration of President Obama. Where has the time gone?

I started this blog to share my experiences as a tour guide during the Inauguration and yet here it is, 100 days later, and I still haven't been able to put it all into words. I've had the time, but I just haven't had the inclination and I haven't been able to figure out why. Now that some time has passed, I think I've come to realize what a momentous day it really was and what a profound effect it had on me to be a part of it. Maybe spending time writing about the details -- especially the logistical nightmares that I and all tour guides had to deal with that week -- would lessen the importance of the event. As it was all happening, I had to worry about so many different things -- where to meet my group; the best way to keep them together in the record crowds; how to be sure they were warm, hydrated, fed, etc. -- that it kept me from seeing the "big picture". Now that some time has passed, those details seem so unimportant compared to the historical magnitude of the event. I was a part of history! I stood there in that crowd and watched our Nation change as the first African-American became our leader. Wow!

I've done a number of tours in the past month; after all, Spring is the busiest time of the year for tour guides in DC. The details of the tours start to all run together after a while, even mixing in with the memories of the 5 days in January that were so special. Yet, every time I take a group to the Capitol now, I see it differently. I'm taken back to January 20 when the platforms were in place on the west front of the building and the hundreds of chairs were set up on the west lawn. I can still hear the cheers from the crowds all the way down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial as Obama finished taking his oath as President, rippling eastward towards the Capitol like a great wave coming ashore at the beach. I remember the bitter cold of that day, even though I sweat in the Spring heat as we walk up Capitol Hill. I don't think I will ever look at the Capitol the same way as I did before the Inauguration because I'll always remember how it looked that day.

Life in Washington has pretty much settled down since January 20 and returned to normal, or so it seems to those of us who have lived here for years. Yet, just a couple of weeks ago I was leading a group of 8th-graders from New Hampshire who had the incredible luck of seeing the President's motorcade up close and personal not once, but twice in one day! The first time was in the early morning as he returned to the White House, perhaps from taking his daughters to school. The police stopped our bus right at the entrance to the south side of the White House and the motorcade drove right in front of us, close enough that the students could see the President in the limo waving to passersby! The second time was that evening, when we were stopped on Constitution Avenue and the motorcade drove right beside us going in the other direction. The students and adults on the bus were so excited! To me, it was just another day in the life of a tour guide in DC. We live with motorcades and security checkpoints every single day. How nice it is to be reminded by my groups that I shouldn't take these things for granted!

So that's as much as I've decided to write about the Inauguration. The stories about the hassles and triumphs seem old to me now. So much has happened in the last 100 days and every new day, every new group, every tour brings new experiences and new stories. I'll keep the memories of January 20, 2009 forever, but I'll keep moving forward, too.

1 comment:

  1. Blogging is a great therapy, when times, some words are best kept in the heart. At times, there simply are no words. This is an absolutely beautiful post!
    Nicely done!