Faith in America’s future restored at Inauguration

2 Feb

Faith in America’s future restored at Inauguration

By Jenna Spoont, 45Words Student Partner

45Words Student Partner Jenna Spoont reports in front of the U.S. Capitol building for her high school newspaper, The Spoke, located in Berwyn, Pa.

 

Golfer Walter Hagen once said, “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. You’re only here for a short visit. So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.”

From Jan. 18 until Jan. 21, I soaked in the excitement, the beauty and the history of Washington, D.C. Throughout my life, I have visited D.C. to spend time with my grandfather and to tour the incredible college campuses. But this visit was different. This visit I covered the 57th Inauguration of the President of the U.S. for ’Stoga News.

The Inauguration is the Super Bowl of politics. It sets the tone for the next four years. It gives the patriotic citizens of this great nation hope for a better future. And what I love most about the Inauguration is the fact that no matter what political affiliation you choose, the opinions are silenced on this day. On Inauguration Day, we celebrate “the land of the free” and “the home of the brave;” we celebrate America.

As I waltzed down the National Mall to stake out a spot as close as possible to the U.S. Capitol building, I have never seen so many enthusiastic volunteers in my life. Bodies bundled up in thick jackets, hands covered with warm wool gloves, heads embraced by Presidential Inauguration red hats, the volunteers greeted the audience with handshakes, high fives and fist pumps. From thin women with a full set of pearly whites, to heavy-set men with just a few teeth, it did not matter about race, gender, sexual orientation or social class. All that mattered among the volunteers was their excitement to be a part of history in the making.

After I set up my tripod and plugged in my microphone, visitors came up to me asking to be interviewed. I spoke to people of all walks of life, coming from across the country and from around the world; North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Illinois, Delaware, India and Trinidad and Tobago, just to name a few. Some were decked out in Obama gear, others looked more like Uncle Sam and many were covered in fleece blankets and fur coats.

When I met the students of the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, located in Dallas, I could easily tell that these kids were more than proud to represent their school at the Inauguration. They are well-raised, well-spoken children with spectacular moral values. I even had the opportunity to hear them sing their school song exclusively for ’Stoga News, with a chant at the end, “Believe, Achieve, Succeed!”

As over 800,000 visitors filled up the National Mall, I watched thousands of American flags soar and wave through the diverse crowd. From the little boy resting on his father’s shoulders, to the woman juggling four American flags in her hands, they got to witness the second inauguration of the first African American president of the U.S.

When the ceremony concluded, it was as if the Exodus had happened all over again. I trailed through the day’s clutter; bags of Chips Ahoy, cans of Red Bull and cups of Starbucks coffee. And the thought of even riding on the Metro within the hour was impossible to fathom. But walking at the speed of a snail made me admire what was occurring right before my eyes. Street vendors sold “Obama pretzels,” which looked like any ordinary soft pretzels. Other vendors stood in the middle of the streets selling Obama buttons, t-shirts, bumper stickers, bobble heads and commemorative Inauguration tickets. And what I saw before my eyes was humanity coming together, supporting one another’s’ causes, celebrating another day of being free.

Tragedies throughout President Obama’s first term like the Sandy Hook massacre, the shooting in Aurora, Colo. and the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens, made me lose faith in humanity. I questioned how such tragedies could possibly happen when our country is supposed to be the strongest in the world. But attending the Inauguration restored the lost faith. The day reminded me that Americans can and will continue to come together for the sake of freedom and for the necessity of safety in our nation. And the theme of the Inauguration, “Faith in America’s Future,” was perfectly fitting for my restoration of faith.

In four years, I encourage you to step out of your living rooms and travel to Washington to witness the next Presidential Inauguration. I know that the television stations put on a phenomenal program of the festivities. But standing in the biting cold, speaking to patriotic people and listening to the words of our country’s leader in person, can certainly not be felt in the comfort of your own home.

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