My View of the Inauguration … with Pictures!

Finally made it back. After staying up some 36 straight hours to work, travel and sit outside in the cold, I am back from the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

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The mass of people waiting into the perimeter at 7am.

Everyone I have seen has asked me the same thing: what was it like? Sure, we all saw it on TV, but there is something about being there that eevrybody assumes is different. Something that is more real and lasting. For this event, it truly was better to be there.

To begin with, there were soooo many people. From the crowds that crunched us and nearly crushed us as we waited to get in, to the National Mall being filled from the Capitol steps all the way to the Washington Monument, there were people as far as the eye could see.

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Hundreds off thousands waiting at gate for history to happen

However, unlike other gatherings throughout history, there was no anger and no unhappiness. There was joy, sheer joy on the part of the estimated 1.5 million people. They laughed and chanted. They cheered and cried. They were moved because, as voters, they had decided to move the needle and elect Obama President.

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American flags waving  in mass during the Inauguration.

I met plenty of people from western Pennsylvania. A group of school kids made the journey from Ligonier. There were boys and girls from Schenley High School. I met an active air force officer from Northview Heights and a woman from the city celebrating her 50th birthday.While I saw Americans of all races, creeds and colors, I saw perhaps more African-Americans than I have ever seen in my life. It’s obvious why so many people who look like me were in attendance, but never has so many taken part in this tradition. They waived their American flags proudly and many told me they were “proud to be Americans”. Now a version of that statement got Michelle Obama into trouble on the campaign trail.

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There were lines, but there were more than enough toilets

However, I think I understand what they were saying for the first time as they watched the final chapter of this improbable story play out before their eyes. African-Americans are feeling this pride because they can finally see the promise of this nation being fulfilled with the election of Barack Obama. Promise that for years they had been denied through slavery, bigotry and discrimination.

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The aftermath: The Mall was covered in trash, but volunteers and staff had it looking spotless in less than two hours.

As for me and my feelings? I have to admit I was touched. Sure as a journalist, you are supposed to be unbiased. However, I could feel that something greater was taking place that day. I could feel there was a seismic shift in the way our country looked at our government. I could feel hundreds of thousands of people believing for the first time they were truly part of the process.

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The North Allegheny Tiger Band making its way to the Inaugural Parade.

Most of all, I could feel the history as it was happening. I was not alive when a man walked on the moon, but I was there as a man of color became President.

I was there to bear witness to history. That is all any journalist can ask. That’s all any of us can ask.

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