My academic minor is history (naturally, English is my major!) so I tend to get a little caught up in the historicity of events. And there is no doubt, no matter where you land on the political scale, that yesterday was an amazingly historical event. I watched far more of it than I should considering how my deadline is approaching at light speed (I like science, but that's not my specialty so don't analyze that analogy).
What struck me: the crowds. I attended Clinton's first inauguration because I was living in DC at the time and wanted to see it. Um, it was so darn cold I went home again before the parade and watched that from the warmth of my living room. I remember walking over half the Mall that day — and the crowd wasn't *anything* like the one yesterday. I also don't remember jumbotrons anywhere. There were loudspeakers, and we could hear everything, but no television screens that I remember (I could be wrong).
But you know what I remember most about that day? Maya Angelou. Yep, the English major in me remembers her poem above all else. Of course! 🙂
I also remember buying a button that had Clinton on it and a little saxophone hanging from it. I'm sure I still have it somewhere. 🙂
I did not attend the second Clinton inauguration (by the time Bush was inaugurated, I no longer lived in DC). And while I understood why all those people would want to be in DC for Obama's, I highly doubt I'd ever attend another one. Too cold! I see more in my house than I do in the audience. And I get to stay warm while I do so.
Historically, what a day. I love being witness to history. My father-in-law drove a Greyhound bus to Martin Luther King Jr's “I have a dream” speech. He brought a group from Buffalo. But he said he didn't hear the speech. I think that's a shame. Still, to have been there on that day — wow. Can you imagine?
What's the coolest historical event you've attended? I can't think of a specific event, but I did once stand on the front row during a speech Reagan gave at the Vietnam Memorial. I have pictures of him and Nancy. It was cool, but OMG, it was 21 years ago…..
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Oh yes, the crowds. I couldn’t believe the sea of people standing out in that cold weather.
I remember Maya Angelou too — On the Pulse of Morning. That woman could read her grocery list and I’d listen.
I haven’t attended any historic events, but I think visiting the sites of past historic events can be just as awe-inspiring. I’ve visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and her bravery is absolutely palpable in the air. I went to see Dealy Plaza when we had RWA in Dallas and was immediately taken back to that afternoon in 7th grade science class when the announcement of Kennedy’s assassination was made over the loud speaker. Standing in Arlington Cemetery and looking at the sea of crosses marking the lives of men and women who have died for their country takes your breath away.
Great post, and definitely a day for the history books yesterday.
I also watched from home yesterday (it not really being practical to travel from Scotland). The crowds were indeed awe inspiring.
As far as attending other historic events – the Dalai Lama came to our local park a few years ago. I kept my daughter off school for the day and we went along. It seems most of the county had been smimilarly inspired as the place was filled to capacity. In the global scheme of things, I know this doesn’t rate as a historic event, but it was a really big deal around here (we don’t get many visitors).
I’m with you though – if anything’s televised I’d rather stay home in the warm and get the best view (plus I hate crowds).
What’s really great when you watch from home is you get to see instant replays. Oh, I’m digressing to football. 😉
I was mesmerized by yesterday’s events, though I’d never seen an inauguration ceremony before.
Every battlefield I’ve ever been to has affected me poignantly. Arlington and the Arizona rate high on my list for being a hallowed place. There are no word to describe Dachau.
I was fortunate to receive an invitation by the captain of the ship Surabachi for its decommissioning ceremony while we were stationed in NJ. Named after the famed mountain where marines upraised the US flag during WWII, the ship was a spectacular sight. Watching one commander after another salute the vessel lined with sailors, jarred my soul. She was an entity her men and women, especially her captain’s adored. And they talked about her like she was alive.
*words* Because it would take more than one word to describe Dachau. 🙂
PM, you’re right! I’d listen to Maya Angelou read a grocery list. What a fascinating woman. And I think you’re right about just *being* in historic places. How wonderful to be able to walk in the footsteps of kings or to stand in the place where someone did something extraordinary.
I’ll never forget walking into St. Peter’s in Rome and standing on that big red disk where Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day in 800AD. Thrilling.
Oh Suzanne, how cool! I think seeing the Dalai Lama would be amazing. He has such an effect on people, and it seems not to matter what their religion is. People feel strongly in his presence.
Kathy, whoa, I can’t believe you never watched an Inauguration before! But now you have, and wasn’t it extraordinary?
Yes, about those battlefields. The Arizona is solemn. Verdun is chilling. So many battlefields I’ve been too, wow. As I think about it, I’m not sure why except that when I lived in Europe there was probably one around every corner!
Though he was Air Force, the hubby retired from the military on the decks of the USS Missouri. I was awed by the history of the ship and watching all these military people honor my husband. Just a few feet away, on the same deck, was the spot where the Japanese signed the surrender. Simply amazing to think we have these historical places preserved, and can do something like hold a military retirement there.
I purposely did not go to Dachau, btw. I admire you for doing so, but I knew I would be too affected by the experience.
I think my brush with history is a little different from the mainstream here. I was caught in the middle of a riot outside the Minnihaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls, SD during the Dennis Banks/Russell Means trial. My cousin’s wife was a member of AIM and took me along to protest the persecution of two Indian heroes. I’ll never forget the different treatment white and non-white protesters received.