Early on Tuesday morning we dropped Tom & Mary at the Metro - they had the now infamous silver tickets and needed to arrive early. Since we didn't have tickets we left a little later, boarding a bus for downtown.
The entire area surrounding the National Mall was closed to all vehicles and thousands of people filled the streets. Everyone was in a celebratory mood, total strangers talking to each other, smiling, waving... there was so much excitement! The huge crowd could have been a little frightening but everyone was patient, moving slowly, taking turns, getting along.
Knowing we couldn't get to any place where we'd have an actual view of the proceedings, we decided to just wander around and see where we ended up. We found our way to Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the Willard Hotel - the sun was shining in the 22 degree cold, and the reflected warmth from the building was welcome. We could hear the program clearly, people surrounding us were listening quietly, grinning, making small comments. Then the big moment arrived, Barack Obama became our president, and shouts of joy came from all around us! Tears, hugs, cheers and high-fives everywhere.
If we had stayed at our corner, we could have seen the President and First Lady walk right by, but that was more than 3 hours later, and we were freezing! Amazingly, the cell phones worked and we were able to meet up with our family & friends. Tom & Mary reported that they made it into the ticketed area, unlike many other silver ticket holders, so they were in one of the closest standing locations. Many others were not so fortunate and although they had tickets they were turned away because of the crowds, or just never even made it to an entry gate.
The crowd at the Irish pub was celebratory, singing, cheering, making friends from all over the country as we warmed up and had our first meal since leaving home that morning. Everyone cheered as we caught glimpses of our new President on the television. As we walked towards the metro to go home we saw the Capitol building, shining white against the night sky - a symbol of hope for all of us.