Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Era

One of the things I love most about our nation's democracy is how we're able to transition power without riots starting. The outgoing leader doesn't simply declare the election results illegal and seize control of the government with martial law. It's peaceful and jubilant, with a lot of pomp and circumstance.

I've been living in DC off and on for the past 9 years and have been here during the last 3 inaugurations. Maybe it was the historic nature of swearing in the first African-American president, but this one was entirely different from the previous two.

The closest thing I witnessed to a protest (let alone a riot) was a few peoplle carrying signs proclaiming that the rest of us were going to Hell unless we repented and some vegans who were passing out literature stating that to mark this historic era of change, President Obama (wow, that's fun to say!) should have banned all meat from the inaugural festivities.

During the first Bush inauguration, however, the law firm I worked at had thrown a party for their clients to watch the parade from their offices (right smack dab in the middle of the parade route at 8th and Pennsylvania), and as an employee, I was expected to attend, which meant that I had to cross the picket line of at least two causes I supported. It made me feel sad to do that, but as a student of politics and history, I did want to be there (even if I hadn't voted for the guy).

But at least those protestors were peaceful. What I witnessed from the 5th floor office of my boss was decidedly not. You see, a group of anarchists had decided to rip down the American flag from the Naval Memorial and replace it with a black flag. Almost within seconds, they were descended upon by a swarm of police in riot gear who started beating them down to the ground in submission with nightsticks.

So needless to say, I'm thrilled that this year's experience was the exact opposite.

As a writer, I rarely find myself without words adequate to express my emotions, but still two days later, I must admit to this inability this time. Just being there on the Mall or walking around downtown, I was faced with an electricity from the crowd that was stirring. And it wasn't just Democrats, either. I met plenty of Republicans who had not voted for President Obama (still get excited when calling him that!), but who wanted to be there to witness history.

It's fitting that the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States occured the day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 80th birthday. I only wish he had lived to see it because it truly was the realization of his dream.

Race relations in our country are far from perfect, but I'm truly hopeful that we will one day reach a point when we really are colorblind. This is a remarkable step closer to that day.

OK, enough sentimentalism. Let's get to the pictures!

Military presence was high, as security was stepped up.

We got to Sunday's concert at the Lincoln Memorial around noon-ish (for a 2:30 pm start time), but many people had been there since 6 am. Considering that it was bitter cold, I'm glad we waited and got there a little bit later, even if it meant that we only got as far forward as the very front of the reflecting pool. Of course, there were still probably at least 400,000 people behind us (all the way past the Washington Monument!), so we got fairly far forward, considering.

This is how far back we were when we first arrived. Fortunately two of our friends had gotten there earlier so we decided to try to go find them and got a lot father forward. Well, hey, what else were we going to do during a 2-hour wait, if not try to find our friends???

Some people decided to climb trees to listen to their favorite performing artists. It was the first time I've ever seen U2 or James Taylor live, and it was awesome!

Walking around, exploring the crowds.

MSNBC...the place for politics!

Mike Barnicle leaves the mobile news room. It was way too cold out to stay to try to watch "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" taped. So we watched it in the comfort of our living room instead.

Soledad O'Brien takes photos of the crowd during a commercial break from CNN.

I get my 15 seconds of fame on the local NBC News and when shown a tiny lunch sack and told that was as large of a bag as they would be allowing along the parade route and then asked what I would bring in it if I went, I said Chapstick (because it was so cold) and an ID. Oooh, brilliant, Amanda! In my defense, it was freakin' freezing and my brain froze.

Christina and I are klassy in our boots with ballgowns on the Metro!

I'm taking you inside an inaugural ball now. It's kinda like prom, only you can drink legally and there are random secret service agents hanging around.

Mr. Brice and I, all dressed up!

Christina shows off the only two Donkey cookies we could find. On most dessert trays, there were only Elephants left.


  1. Oh, thank you so much for sharing! Since I couldn't be there, it's the next best thing to point and say, "But I know her, she was there!" You look beautiful!

    How did you resist smooching Mike Barnicle? (Yeah, okay, I'm a news groupie ...)

    Wonderful pictures! And now I'm all weepy again.

  2. OMG Amanda those photos are such a wonderful thing for you to share. Even us righties got choked up, I think, these past few days.

    Three cheers for our country and let's all line up to support our new president.

  3. Amanda Brice2:14 PM

    Lyra, if I'd been there when Keith was getting ready to go on, I think I probably would have jumped him. I loves me some Olbermann...

    Chrissy, it was really amazing to see people of all political stripes getting emotional. We met some people from College Republicans at Rutgers at the ball we went to.

  4. Cool pics, you looked lovely

  5. Man, it looks like a cold day. Glad you had fun.

  6. Amanda Brice2:59 PM

    Ah, see Kristen...that's why God created thermal underwear. And footless Lycra tights (which I wore under my formal gown).

    And yes...we did in fact bring along our nice shoes to change into at the coat check. We looked like dorks on the Metro, but at least we didn't get frostbite on our toes!

  7. Awesome pics! YOu guys look fabulous in your finery. What better occasion to strap on the elbow-length satin gloves?

  8. Amanda Brice3:18 PM

    Thanks everyone!

    Louisa, the gloves were literally a last-minute game-time decision. I was wearing gold jewelry with my brown dress and had the gloves from the Jane Austen ball I attended in August and because the purse I carried had gold and brown accents, I decided to throw the gloves in there on a whim. Hey, why not, right? They ended up coming in handy to help keep me warm!

  9. Great pictures. Love the dress.

    I don't ever remember being so engrossed and engaged in watching the inauguration before. I chatted with friends and family via phone and IM during the entire thing.

    It was a very emotional day, even watching it from home. And one of the best things for me was my nephew's reaction and observations as well as my dad's.

    Great idea about the shoes. I've done something similar in the past but in reverse.

  10. Thanks for sharing the pictures. It was truly a historic event that I, too, have difficulty putting into words. However, by viewing the pictures, I get to experience the excitement and thrill of the moment all over again. Very cool!!

  11. What a gorgeous couple! I'm so glad you got to experience that energy in person.

  12. I am so jealous! I was glued to the television set, watching every second from coffee with the old president, to the last At Last dance by the new first couple. Fantastic pictures!! Thank you so much for sharing. You look fantastic

  13. Thanks for sharing your pics and experiences, Amanda! "Chapstick and ID" -- yep, that's what I'd bring, plus kleenex. :-)


  14. Theresa Ragan5:36 PM

    Wow, Amanda, what a great account of your day! I would have loved to have been there. You and your husband look so great going to the ball! You lucky girl. Thanks for sharing!

    Theresa Ragan

  15. Thanks for sharing your great photos, Amanda! And I agree about Keith Olbermann, he totally does it for me.

  16. Great pics! What an awesome day. Love the slinky brown dress too :-D


  17. OMG, I miss DC so much!!!!! I love that town. And you two look incredible!

  18. Even as a Canadian, I found the day's ceremonies very emotional. My dd was home sick and we watched. Even though it's obviously American history, it's a part of history that's going to affect the entire world.

  19. Anonymous6:18 PM

    What wonderful pics! Thanks for sharing.

  20. These are great pictures, and I love your dress. YAY!!

  21. Anonymous8:46 PM

    I really enjoyed that blog and pics. I felt like I was there. So nice of you to give us a first hand tour, and REALLY cool to see you and the famed 'Mr. Brice' I've read so much about on Divas!