Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
My Pictures from Inauguration Week
My pictures of the inauguration follow a wee bit of commentary…
I had an entire entry written and ready to go. It was set to post last Monday, President Bush’s final day in office. It went on for several pages about the abomination that was the Bush presidency.
About how a man propelled into office by the slimmest margin in history immediately began governing as if he had an overwhelming mandate. About how the self-titled uniter divided this country like never before. Abut how the compassionate conservative was neither.
How a $100 billion budget surplus was transformed into a $700 billion deficit. How an administration ignored the warning signs and, in fact, encouraged the lack of oversight that led to the collapse of America’s financial markets, ushering in the most imperiled economy since The Great Depression.
How the Commander in Chief obliterated America’s standing in the world, refusing to acknowledge any responsibility in a war based on false pretences, murdering more than 4,000 Americans and butchering tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. How a leader who was supposed to be an advocate of small, unobtrusive government presided over the most sweeping disintegration of American civil rights in history — declaring that he was within his right to pick and choose which laws he would enforce or ignore, using the threat of terrorism as his rational to set in motion warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, the subversion of the Justice Department, unmonitored military tribunals, indefinite detentions of suspected enemy combatants, and the torture of detainees in legal nether regions.
How Bush abandoned thousands to neglect after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and continues even to this day to insist that the only thing he would have done differently was the photo-op aboard Air Force One. How he actually reveled in crushing scientific dissent, being a world polluter, ignoring climate change and continually undermining saving endangered species.
But when it came time to post this admitted rant, I found myself suffering from a certain feeling of anti-climax. For years I’ve written Bush a “goodbye and good riddance” post in my head, but during its final hours I didn’t feel like writing so much as falling to my knees in political and emotional exhaustion.
Why waste one more word on that man and the repugnance that was the last eight years?
But it wasn’t all fatigue. Note even remotely. Last week was a week of hope, of renewal and of unbridled optimism. It was rebirth. It was chrysalis. It was morning again in America. That is what I chose to focus on instead.
My wife and I were able to secure tickets to the inauguration and, in addition, participated in several events during the week, including the Florida Ball and the “We Are One” Inaugural Celebration.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll stop talking and let the images take over (with a few explanatory paragraphs, naturally). Please click on any of the images to enlarge them.
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We fought the crowds to get a great piece of real estate along the front, left side of the Lincoln Memorial for the “We Are One” Inaugural Celebration concert featuring musical performers like U2, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban,, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am, and Stevie Wonder. Among those reading historical passages were Tom Hanks, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Steve Carrel, Rosario Dawson, Jack Black and Denzel Washington. I went in assuming U2 would bring the house down, but little did I suspect that Garth Brooks would walk away with that honor!
We got tickets to the Florida Ball. This was not one of the “official” balls, meaning the Obamas did not attend. Still, any excuse to wear my tuxedo is a good one. Our dear friends Brett and Cassidy joined us.
On Inauguration Day, we were part of the infamous Purple Gate and as a result, nearly didn’t make it in. After several hours of moving only three or four feet, we broke out of line, found the gate (just one gate for tens of thousands of people), pushed our way through the literal crush of bodies and made it to a spot on the Mall with the other 1.8 million spectators just as the ceremony began. Thousands behind us were not so lucky. Our stories are just like everyone else’s: no organization whatsoever, no police or volunteers directing the human traffic — just a line of people as wide as a city street that ran for block after block without any idea of where it was going or how to get there. Once in place, we quickly forgot about the bitter cold and the hours spent in line and reveled in viewing history with out own eyes as Obama was sworn in and began his awe-inspiring inaugural address.
For an extraordinary satellite image of the Mall that day, click here. This image was taken almost a full hour before Obama was sworn in. Almost all of the open space along the Mall was filled in by then.
For other, professional, extraordinary pictures of the inauguration please click here.
For more of my pictures, please click here: The “We Are One” concert, the Florida Ball, The Swearing-In of Barack Obama.