The world’s eyes fell upon Washington, D.C. Tuesday to welcome the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
However, while most Miami students were watching the ceremonies from their warm beds, uncomfortable classroom desks or at an uptown restaurant, some Miami students journeyed to the nation’s capital to partake in the festivities firsthand.
As junior Mary Wehbie’s alarm clock went off at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, she knew participating in Miami’s Inside Washington program during spring 2009 would make her privy to activities that no other participant of the program had seen before-the inauguration of Barack Obama.
To avoid large crowds on D.C.’s public transportation, Wehbie and friend Ellen Partridge walked more than an hour to the National Mall.
After waiting for hours in line, Wehbie and Partridge finally gained access to the silver ticket section of the National Mall. Located just a few hundred yards from the Capitol Building, the Miami juniors witnessed history.
“I thought Obama and his family looked so happy and so put together,” Wehbie said. “You just can’t help but be happy for them and be happy for the country because of this occasion.”
Wehbie, who supported John McCain in November, said she did not feel out of place in the swarms of Obama supporters Tuesday.
“I don’t think the fact that I voted for McCain took away from it (the ceremony) for me,” she said. “I am American, too. It didn’t make me feel alienated.”
Wehbie also said the crowd had a not-so-warm welcome for former president George W. Bush. As Bush was introduced, many in the crowd of nearly two million people booed.
“To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the crowd around me,” Wehbie said. “There was a lot of focus on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, it almost distracted from the atmosphere. I felt a little bad for George Bush. It wasn’t supposed to be about him, it was supposed to be about Barack Obama.”
Aaron Turner, the co-president of College Democrats disagreed.
“It’s hard not to boo George W. Bush,” Turner said. “A lot of people have pent up frustration for George W. Bush.”
Turner and other members of Miami’s College Democrats departed Saturday morning for Washington, D.C. Their tickets were obtained from several members of the U.S. House of Representatives-Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and the newly elected democrat from Cincinnati, Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio).
Turner said it was the historic nature of the ceremonies that was so exciting.
“We knew we were about to see something historic,” Turner said. “As soon as Dianne Feinstein stood up, you could probably hear a pin drop.”
The weather will certainly be a memory of many who made the trip for this historic day. USA Today reported that the temperature for Washington DC Tuesday was 28 degrees, with a wind chill of 17 degrees.
Whatever the temperature, though, history was witnessed by millions around the world.
“I don’t think it was the cold that gave me the goosebumps when Barack Obama stood up to take his oath,” Turner said.