History in the Making
I may have to camp out at the Reagan airport on Tuesday night. Last week, I booked my plane ticket to Orlando for the long weekend. I thought that I would be traveling against the crowd, since I will be leaving D.C when everyone else is flocking in for the inauguration. I scheduled my trip so that I will return on Tuesday night, when the chaos of the inauguration is over. Unfortunately, when I so cleverly planned my trip to avoid the inauguration traffic, I forgot one, little detail: every bridge and many of the main roads in the metropolitan area will be closed on Tuesday for security reasons.
For the past few days, my parents have cut out articles in the newspaper that map out the sections of D.C that will not be accessible to vehicles on Tuesday. Key Bridge and the George Washtington Parkway, both of which I take to go to the airport, will be closed. No one knows how to get me home from the airport. My best chance is to take the Metro, along with the thousands of other people who are predicted to take it in and out of D.C on Tuesday.
Unprecedented security measures are planned for the January 20th inauguration of the first U.S black president. A record number of 1.5 to 3 million people are expected to be at the inauguration, and 13,000 national guardsmen will be watching the crowd and looking out for a possible terrorist attack. Intelligence officials have described the inauguration as an “attractive target” because of the historic significance, the number of government officials present, and the impressive size of the crowd. In the case of a terrorist attack, it will not be easy to evacuate millions of people from the area. People will not even be able to communicate with others via cell phones during an emergency, since security officials believe that the cell phone lines will be busy all day. They recommend relying on text messages instead.
The security procedures are not children and elderly friendly. With the bridges closed, long walks to the events are guaranteed, and officials are warning the public that those who attend the inauguration may have to stand up for six hours straight, since seating is limited. That’s in addition to the three hours people will have to wait in order to get through the security checkpoints. And don’t plan on being able to rush a crying toddler to the bathroom, since there will not be nearly enough public restrooms available.
Certain items are forbidden from the inauguration site. While the list bans obvious items such as firearms and ammunition, it also prohibits more common necessities like umbrellas, strollers, posters, bicycles, and backpacks. People have to walk for miles to get to the National Mall and then stand for hours, since chairs are also on the list of forbidden items, without a backpack to hold their snacks and belongings. And they will be holding any little kids since strollers are prohibited.
So why bother go?
Obama will be the first black president of the United States. His presidency is already one for the textbooks, and everyone wants to be a part of history. Millions of people are willing to face the crowds, the security checkpoints, and the lack of bathrooms in order to be a part of this inauguration. They know they may not see or hear Obama, but they will see history being made. They will feel the crowd’s excitement and hope for the future. When their grandchildren study Obama’s presidency in school, these people will be able to say that they braved the cold and the crowds in order to be a part of Obama’s monumental inauguration. They were there when a new era began.