Inaugural Feelings – Past and Present

The year was 1977 and I was a high school senior with high hopes and grand ideas. So grand that someone in our National Honor Society thought we should plan a trip to Washington DC for the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter. He was known as the people’s President and we wanted to be part of this new era of politics. Fortunately our advisors were all in and guided our trip planning, even adding in a tour of the Secret Service Office compliments of our teacher’s nephew. We traveled by Greyhound bus leaving late at night heading from Massachusetts to New York, and then catching another bus from Grand Central to Washington DC. While the hot stuffy bus ride left a lot to be desired, our energy and enthusiasm kept us from complaining.

I recall the excitement of being in Washington DC and witnessing the multiday event. We were part of a historic event. The crowds of people filled the city and the energy was contagious. We arrived early to secure a spot on the lawn and stood on our tippy toes to get a peek at the tiny figures on the podium viewed from a distance without the high-tech screens of today. We could however clearly hear President Carter declaring the oath to uphold the constitution.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

There was such pride and emotion standing among the throngs of Americans gathered to experience history in the making. The twenty degree temperatures in snow covered ground made standing a little tricky but we had our youthful passions to keep us warm. We ran across town in an attempt to find a good spot for the parade in anticipation that our new President would wave to us travel-weary citizens. We were able to catch a glimpse of him, his wife, and nine year old daughter, as they stepped out of their car and become the first presidential family to walk the parade route. Our youthful energy kept us enthused as we held tight to the possibilities for our country with this new administration promising hope for the working men and women. We were awe-struck!

It’s now 2021 and while I might not have the same youthful energy that I did when I was eighteen, I do have a similar sense of hope for the new administration being sworn in tomorrow. The mood will certainly be different in Washington DC, with 191,500 illuminated flags symbolizing the Americans that could not attend this year’s ceremony due to COVID placed on the National Mall to replace the crowds. And as I watch the festivities from the comfort of my home tomorrow I will be cheering just as loudly as I did so many years ago, hanging on to the optimism I feel for this new administration. My heart will once again swell with pride when our new President Joseph Biden, and the first woman Vice President Kamala Harris take the stand and profess those same words I heard forty-four years ago…

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

It’s Tuesday and I am joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers for their weekly Slice of Life post. Come join us!

5 Replies to “Inaugural Feelings – Past and Present”

  1. Here’s hoping that all goes well tomorrow! Love picturing you there and seeing the pictures you’ve shared as well! Also love how you frame this piece with the oath. If only everyone followed it…

  2. It added power to your reminiscence to include the quotation near the beginning and at the end. Reminding us of the promise to the Constitution.
    On a personal note, I also remember the Carter Inaugural, and even went to a ball- as a date to a housemate that was a campaign volunteer! Dates me, I know. But I shared that hope and optimism with you then, and I do now.

  3. Wow! What an amazing experience you had! I enjoyed hearing the connections between Carter and now the inauguration of Biden. I will be comfortably watching from home too!

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