The election was held November 6th, of course. So, we all knew the results for some time.
But it wasn’t until the first week of December that we heard about the tour. A group of people (some from our county, some from other counties) were going to the Inauguration in DC in January. We had never even considered going, but now that we knew other folks were heading out…it seemed worth a peek at the agenda. We decided to go for it. We contacted our congressman about Inauguration tickets, but his allotment was already spoken for.
Friday, January 18th, we flew to Philadelphia, corralled our luggage, and boarded a charter bus for DC. Well, Arlington, anyway, but we drove right through DC and along the Mall. The first night we got some dinner, contacted a couple of friends about meeting for breakfast Saturday morning with one couple, and Sunday morning with another young man. After I got off the phone, I realized I had a voicemail. It was our congressman’s office calling: Were we still in DC, and could we use two tickets for the Inauguration? Are you kidding me?! It was on!
Saturday, January 19th, we met with our friends for breakfast, and then they drove us to the Jefferson Memorial to drop us off. I was so excited…I have been to DC a few times, now, but I could never see the Jefferson. It always seemed to be on the other side of the Tidal Basin, no matter what I did. Finally, I saw it. And the FDR Memorial. And the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. All three were just fantastic. From there, we walked quite awhile before catching a cab to the Sam Rayburn Building, where the US representative’s office with the tickets was located. Picked up the tickets, and caught a cab back to the World War II Memorial. I took a number of pictures particularly in honor of my grandfather, who served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
Next we walked around to the back of the White House, saw the security chamber where the president and vice-president would be watching the Inauguration Parade on Monday, then headed down Pennsylvania Avenue. About half way down, we hailed a pedicab, and rode to the Old Post Office Pavilion, which had a neat statue of Benjamin Franklin, the first US postmaster, out front. We ate inside (they have a food court, and several souvenir shops) and bought some of the best souvenirs we saw all weekend.
That evening, we took the night tour, which visited all the major monuments and memorials that we either saw during the day, or during previous visits to DC. The tour was amazing.
Monday, January 21st, we woke up early…as in, we were waiting at the gates to the Metro Station when they opened at 4am! Took the metro to our station, got off by showing our tickets to security, walked a couple of blocks, then waited with the other Gold Ticket holders until the security stanchions were moved for us at 6:30am. Walked a few blocks more to the security check stations, which were set up by TSA in the same manner as at airports. Then walked a couple blocks more to where our area was located, where we stood and waited for things to begin. They provided plastic platforms to stand on, which were much more forgiving on the feet and knees than ground or asphalt would have been. A megatron showed scenes from past Inauguration ceremonies, and we had a great view of the Capitol. A beautiful sunrise heralded the event, which began promptly at 11:30am.
When the Inauguration itself was over, we headed out immediately, walked clear around the Capitol and its surrounding buildings, kept with the crowd as it seemed prudent, veered away when it wasn’t, and ultimately not only arrived at the Parade route, but got there before it began! We did not see President Obama, but saw his car. Vice President Biden was seen, though. Finally, we headed back to our hotel, tired, but very, very happy. We stayed one more night, then got up one more morning, had one last breakfast, boarded the bus for Pennsylvania, caught our flight back to Texas, and arrived back home safe and sound, with the knowledge that we had truly experienced the trip of a lifetime.