Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Inaugural images and thoughts
Again, a heartfelt thanks to my former student, Bryant Jones, for sharing some of the scenes he has witnessed in Washington, D.C. during the past few days. One photo above shows a freeway closed off for the Inaugural; there are the crowd scenes, the final helicopter ride for President Bush, and, of course, a subject dear to my heart: potty johns----in this case, potty chairs.
Having been inside a honeybucket once at The Festival with two naughty adolescents peering down at me through the vent, I wonder how many people were a bit reluctant to use the facilities. I'm guessing, however, that Mother Nature's calls far exceeded modesty in that setting.
I'm continually honored by Bryant's willingness to do this for his ol' teach. His efforts are typical of this "on-the-go, forward-thinking and thoughtful" young man.
Over the past decade, he has vicariously taken me along for several rides while serving as student body president at the University of Vermont, traveling to China to teach middle school students and, most recently, living in Washington, D.C., finishing his Master's Degree at George Washington University and working as an aide for Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson.
I am greatly indebted, especially because Bryant, like so many of my students, has provided me a window to the world, right here at the Lovestead in little ol' Sandpoint.
Well, the Inauguration is over, and I probably sat in front of my television for at least seven hours off and on throughout yesterday's coverage. I had received an invitation to go watch at the Panida, but opted for staying in the privacy of my own home where I could hog the remote, surfing from channel to channel, especially at commercial time.
C-SPAN offered the purest form of watching history---no commercials, no constant chatter drowning out the music. Still, I switched back and forth because of my need to know what was being said.
A lot of what was being said had been said a million times before, but when you have millions of eyes watching a single event, that in itself is unique. Bill liked the early morning edition where the ladies from "Luzianna" sang their own Obama-laced rendition of "Jumbalaya."
Later, just as the limousine pulled out of the White House to take the President and the President-Elect to the Capitol, my phone rang. My first inclination was not to answer, but I looked at the caller-ID, and saw that it was another former student---a 44-year-old who had never voted in an election until this one. He was so moved by the day that he just wanted to connect with someone.
He had to go to work but had taped the Inauguration and planned to watch snatches of it at work. He also knew I didn't want to miss anything, so he kept the conversation short. Still, it was a profound moment to me, knowing the impact this day was having on so many people. I was honored that he had shared his thoughts.
As far as observations of the goings on, at first, I thought Aretha Franklin's hat was a bit much, but eventually, it kinda grew on me. Loved her stirring and strong rendition of "America." I thought the poet's words were magnificently simple but profound and well-delivered.
The oath----well, like Navajo blankets, there's always got to be a flaw to make it genuine. Overall, I thought the words uttered throughout the entire ceremony, ranging from Sen. Dianne Feinstein to the little ol' gentleman who delivered the benediction, were appropriate for each situation.
The musical arrangement with "Simple Gifts"? Wow! Exquisite and a touching remembrance of what means the most to all of us in this world----simple kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, respect for others. Age old but always appreciated more than anything materialistic.
Another friend and I discussed Michelle Obama's ensemble and agreed that it seemed more evening-related than what we would choose for the daytime festivities. But that was our opinion, and we're far from fashion experts.
I loved watching portions of the parade and was amazed that people could continue that overpowering cheering throughout. I'm glad President Obama and the First Lady were able to walk the route without incident. Speaking of the First Lady, I don't know who could have been enjoying the festivities more than her brother, the Oregon State basketball coach who was appropriately adorned with an orange and black scarf.
This morning, the celebrations and parties have ended, and the work begins. For one day, however, it was uplifting to once again be reminded of the great traditions this country has as it transfers power from one administration to another. I think they did it well yesterday, and it was, indeed, a day I'll never forget.
Again, check out (www.inauguralafoot.blogspot.com) for Sandpoint resident Chris Bessler's saga of his family's daily foot tour through the Inaugural events.