My apologies for not blogging about the Inauguration sooner! In all honesty, it was a crazy week, and the weekend wasn’t much of a break, as I headed to Atlanta to check out Emory for grad school. In any case, before I give you the lowdown on the spirit of Inauguration, I MUST tell you about my moving experience the Sunday prior:
For 9 of the ladies from N Street Village, Barack Obama’s presidency was not just a far-off glimpse of hope. These women, among many other forgotten Americans, were invited to the People’s Inaugural Ball on the night of Inauguration. The staff of N Street have begun calling these women “Cinderellas,” and there is really no better way to describe the transformation they were enabled to make that night.
When my hidden talent as a photographer was discovered, I was given the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this excitement, capturing on camera what is almost impossible to put into words. On Sunday before inauguration, I accompanied the Cinderellas to the J.W. Marriott hotel on Pennsylvania Ave. There, each woman was allowed to pick out a gown, shoes, jewelry, and a purse for free and for keeps! We waited with anticipation for our chance to enter the room full of gowns, and when it was our turn, we were all overwhelmed with the wide selection and helpful service. I was one of many photographers/reporters, all present to capture such a joyous event. One by one, the ladies who came into the hotel with winter coats and an air of fatigue came out of the dressing room in bold, flowing colors, faces aglow.
Sunday was just the beginning of the preparations for the ball. Each of the 9 women were also able to have their nails and hair done, free of charge. Though I was not able to attend the ball myself, I encourage you to seek out these women and ask them about their experience being Cinderella! And although midnight has passed, and the gowns have gone, we remember that Cinderella is beautiful and kind – a strong spirit that should be recognized on all days.
After a few hours spent at the Marriott, I was ready to head home! It was about 2pm, and my housemates had been down at the Lincoln Memorial since around 10am, eagerly awaiting the huge Sunday concert/Inauguration kickoff. I wanted to be there – I really did – but I knew that my job as photographer was more important on this particular day. I called my parents to chat about it all, and they encouraged me to head down to the Lincoln Memorial, even though I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere close! I decided they were right – conformity was the name of the game that weekend, so I moved along with the masses to the heart of the city.
Well, I was able to get close enough to see the Lincoln Memorial in the distance, but that was about it. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the same place as that many people at once!! Jumbotrons and speakers were set up everywhere, and I couldn’t help but think that the Inaugural Planning Committee was smart in setting this up. In my mind, it was clearly a practice run for Inauguration. By making it a concert, they ran almost 0% of any risk of danger, because let’s face it – everyone loves music! It was a test to see how they could handle that number of people in that space, and we passed with flying colors! Later, I was shocked to hear that only about 800,000 people were present. There would be twice that at Inauguration, and it just wasn’t making sense in my head as to how all of those people would fit!
In more ways than one, Sunday was just a teaser for Tuesday. So it only seems fit that I prolong my Inauguration post for one more day…(this post is long enough anyway!)
Check out my Flickr site for more photos from the People’s Inaugural Ball preparations! Click here to listen to a story NPR did on the ladies from N Street!