Area residents soak in inaugural experience

Two Elkhart County residents provide their impressions of being at Monday's inauguration in Washington, D.C.
Posted on Jan. 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — From Chris Judson’s perspective, Monday’s inauguration that attracted several hundred thousand people to Washington was not only a celebration of a second term for President Barack Obama, but also one of diversity.

Judson, an English teacher who traveled to the event with a group of colleagues from Concord High School, said he was impressed with the mix of different people highlighted in Obama’s speech and in the crowd.

Judson said he liked Obama’s reference to citizenship and overtures concerning immigration reform.

The topic of immigration reform, he said, is one that involves many of his students — some of which he considers to be among his hardest working — and who just want so much to be “part of the country.”

Mention of the issue, he said, gives hope that Obama will seek reform during his second term.

He said he also enjoyed the poem delivered by Richard Blanco, a Cuban-American who is believed to be the youngest person ever to deliver an inaugural poem and also happens to be openly gay — another historic first, according to numerous media outlets.

Blanco’s poem, “One Today,” was described by the Los Angles Times as “an intimate and sweeping celebration of our shared, single identity as a people.”

Judson found it to be “pretty profound.”

“It really tied that idea of ‘we the people’ together,” he said.

Even though they were far away, Judson said he and friends had a fairly good view of the stage at the Capitol and that video displayed on a Jumbotron helped.

Shari Mellin, chairwoman of the Elkhart County Democratic Party, was also at the event and said she and her husband, Tom, went through a lot of checkpoints with the masses of people for a space to see the inauguration.

From the time they left their hotel Monday morning, it took three hours to secure their spot after going through security and finding the correct entry point.

And then she could only see the swearing-in ceremony via Jumbotron.

“We stood kind of the furthest away you could stand and still be in the ticketed area,” she said.

Even so, it was worth it: “It’s our history, our American history. And democracy in action,” she said.

Plus, she had a star-sighting — singer Stevie Wonder on the airplane that she took from Chicago to Washington. “He was riding in the first row of first-class,” Mellin said.

Mellin planned to brave the crowds once again Wednesday evening to attend an inaugural ball expected to draw some 35,000 people.

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