Monday, January 19, 2009

Pre-Inauguration Thoughts

by Jordan Kamikawa

I usually try to stay away from big crowds.

That being said, going to see the inauguration live tomorrow probably wouldn’t normally sound like the greatest idea. However, there is just something about watching history in the making and being able to someday tell your future grandkids that “I was there” which makes it too hard to resist.

As the day fast approaches, I can only guess what is in store for us. Countless hordes of people, intense security, extreme hunger, thirst and bathroom pains (I read that there will be about 1 bathroom to every 3000 people) will probably await us. However, the meaning of this event is so significant that it makes enduring these things seem manageable.

First, let me say that I was never a really gung-ho Obama supporter. In fact, I was torn between the two candidates for almost the whole election. However, towards Election Day I began to lean more and more to Obama’s side, and finally decided to support him.

The day he was elected, I, along with many other Americans, felt that a major barrier in American History had been shattered; a black man became President. Regardless of whether you agree with Obama or not, the fact that an African-American was now in the highest position of authority in the US was a pretty exciting feat. Just watching the diversity of the crowds celebrating on that night was truly a tear-jerking experience.

Now, being in Washington DC, I have been able to feel the excitement first hand. One of the first things I noticed when we arrived was the sheer number of people crowding the entire city. It is obvious that people have traveled far and wide to witness this historic event. Most of the crowd have been made up of African-Americans, many wearing Obama apparel to display their support and pride for the new leader. However, the mix of people from different backgrounds and countries has also been quite overwhelming and inspiring (in fact, there are quite a few foreigners staying in our hostel, one of which is supposedly a very prominent figure in Africa). Also, some of the people in our group have been conducting interviews with various bystanders asking them about their thoughts on the inauguration, which have produced some in-depth and sometimes very powerful replies (watch for the feature on in the near future).

Overall, there is an excitement in the air that’s almost palpable, and for the first time I really feel that some kind of change is being brought to America. Hearing some of the stories of people from different places and backgrounds really makes me believe that I am being part of something big, and that a greater sense of unification is being created.

In all reality, this may very well be one of the most memorable days of my life; I just hope I won’t have to use the bathroom.

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