Archive for 1/20/09 Inauguration

Inauguration Fever: Proud to Be an American (Again)

Posted in Liz Hager, Politics, Pop Culture Miscellany with tags , , on January 21, 2009 by Liz Hager

“. . . On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. . . “

 

 

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photo ©2009 Liz Hager


As shots appear on the Jumbotrons, the enormity of the visual impact made by 1.8 million of us on the Mall was clear. The symbol of hope seen ’round the world.  On the ground, the crowd sizzles with pent-up energy.  Eight am rolls into 9 am and 10 am; the Mall filled. The rainbow coalition is reporting for duty.  The weather oscillates between biting cold (wind chill in action) and almost tolerable. People shuffled and marched to stay warm, aided by Sunday’s concert re-play on the Jumbotrons. 

With the arrival of dignitaries on the podium stage, we forget all about our frigid bodies. Anyway, the sun has come out, a portend of things to come. Random and large cheers rupture, ripple, reverberate. John Lewis, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and Puff Daddy come and sit.  Cheney rolls in on his wheelchair—what righteous symbolism!  With the announcement of the man soon to be “Formally Known As,”  the crowd sends forth loud boos, chants of “Good Riddance,” “Go Back to Texas”and choruses of “Na, Na, Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Goodbye.”  The party is underway!

And then The Moment arrives. Our Man waits for the Chief Justice to get the words straight; alas he is unable, so our Man, poised as ever, repeats the wrong sequence.   “Congratulations, Mr. President.” The crowd goes wild.  Ding, dong the witch is dead!

 

 

. . . The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. . .”

 

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©2009 Liz Hager

 

“Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

 

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©2009 Liz Hager

 

“All this we can do. All this we will do.”

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Inauguration Fever: Martin Luther King/National Day of Service

Posted in Liz Hager, Politics, Pop Culture Miscellany with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2009 by Liz Hager

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Moving in a Straight Line ©2009 Liz Hager

We brave Massachusetts Avenue and the traffic jams at Union Station (hoards of people arriving today), then head SE down Pennsylvania Avenue and cross the Anacostia River. It’s a part of town none of us have ever been in. From the elevated overpass, we can see a small part of Anacostia Park below us. Anacostia is a very large park, which hugs the river for miles upriver. The park looks bleary in the hazy low-slung sunshine of the afternoon. The Pennsylvania Avenue overpass bisects the park, creating a no man’s land underneath it.  A collection of shabby buildings huddles together at one end of the park  and a sorry playground sits forlornly on the downriver side. With some trees standing along the river, this part of the park seems to be holding on to a last shred of dignity.  The river, industrial structures lining its shores here and there, chunks of ice bobbing along, definitely gives this area an aura of bleakness. It’s the dead of winter on the Eastern Seaboard.

We turn into the park and head towards the parking lot. 

Anacostia borders one of the poorest districts in Washington, DC.  The Anacostia River was once referred to as “DC’s forgotten river,” because of its state of severe pollution, caused by the dumping of raw sewage and industrial waste. Since 2004 a coalition of the willing—including No Child Left Inside, the National Park Service, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and a number of Senators and Congresspeople—have banded together to spearhead clean up efforts. It seems that the Park too has its share of the audacity of hope.

A lot of us have come for speeches and a tree planting on this National Day of Service.  Senators Steny Hoyer and Ben Cardin are here. (Hoyer gives a truly impressive speech linking Martin Luther King’s legacy to all of us.) The formidable Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC’s representative without a vote) is here. Even former Mayor Marion Barry is here, his drug-related problems apparently behind him.  There has been a rumor that Obama might show up. That would be truly exciting, but we’re content to support No Child Left Inside and the Park Service, even if he doesn’t come. And, as big fans of Friends of the Urban Forest back in San Francisco, the idea of participating in a tree planting feels like a way to be a good national neighbor on this National Day of Service. 

A local gospel choir kicks off the event; their undulating sea of rhythm is infectious. Speeches follow—most are

Inauguration Fever: The Pre-Game Show

Posted in Liz Hager, Politics, Pop Culture Miscellany with tags , , , , on January 19, 2009 by Liz Hager

 

With this post Venetian Red begins coverage of the Inauguration. 

 

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Shot Rings Out  (photo ©Liz Hager)

It’s Sunday mid-afternoon in our nation’s capital. The temperature is warming. 

As our afternoon activity, we’ve opted for the National Gallery, not the Reflecting Pool. (Need to store all of our crowd-coping reserves for Tuesday’s event.) After a wholly-satisfying perusal of the East and West buildings (more on this in later posts), curiosity about the outside world has gotten the better of us. We head along the short block from the Gallery to the Mall. 

The Capitol building is festooned with garlands of flags, its stage visible visible from the first two Mall “yards.” Phalanxes of port-o-potties stand at attention along the edges of the Mall, their virginity preserved by plastic clasps. The feed towers, news stages, and Jumbotrons are all up.  A few thousand people have gathered together in loose clumps in front of the immense screens. As we round the corner of a supporting vehicle, we look up to see Bono’s be-spectacled face beaming down at us.  It seems we won’t miss a concert experience after all. 

The crowd is a joyous one, shuffling around to the beat, many singing along. More of us sing along with Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. When Byoncé appears on the screen, she transfixes us (that girl has a set of pipes!). By the end of her performance our crowd has erupted in cheers.

And then the Man himself appears on screen to give us a sobering and uplifting pep talk. More than a few eyes are brimming with tears. 

We feel a disembodying sensation to be outdoors with thousands of people (truly a rainbow coalition) WATCHING TELEVISION. Though the concert is a short, straight shot away at the Lincoln Memorial, our gathering has its own unique make up, emotions, rhythms. But one thing is for sure, we’re all in this together, and that’s an expansive feeling.

This afternoon we’ve had a small preview of what will come.

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