Monday, Jan. 22
The crowd for the 44th presidential inauguration was estimated to be one-third of the size of the 43rd, making it easier for latecomers to get close to the action. We had tickets for the orange area, which granted us standing room behind the seated area on the Capitol lawn.
We had about an eight-block walk and arrived downtown at about 9:45 a.m., after taking the bus as far as possible. The first check point for our tickets was easy. Once we got in the section closest to security check, we hit a 45-minute standstill. While I spotted about a dozen people who decided that they weren’t up to the wait, the near shoulder-to-shoulder crowd waited patiently and orderly.
Security check was a relatively easy process. The experience was much like it is going through security at an airport. I was encumbered with a camera and audio recording equipment and I was through the in about 4 minutes.
The crowd helped to push us to the checkpoint, but once through, we walked quickly to the designated area and beyond. After scaling a short cyclone fence (don’t tell the Secret Service), we made our way into the seated section on the lawn. (That 4-foot fence was a little harder to get over than I expected.) My guess is that we were about 50 yards from the Capitol steps.
With the Jumbotron in clear view and the podium within eye-shot, we planted ourselves for the ceremony. As the crowded applauded, emailed, tweeted and reveled in the moment, I was amazed to be a part of the event.
But my awe of the movement wasn’t over yet. On the way out of the ceremony, I got an opportunity to meet a former Tuskegee airman.
Audley Coulthurst, 88, of Jamaica, N.Y., said that this was his first inauguration and that he was happy to be there.