capitalBy John Oliveira
1/20/09

This
morning’s historic inauguration was seen in person by over a million
people on the National Mall in Washington D.C. A majority of the people
who saw President Obama become the 44th Commander-In-Chief attended at
their own free will on a first come first served basis. However, about
250,000 were given actual tickets to secure them a spot on the Mall.
These tickets were all given out free through a lottery. I was one of
the few to have one of these limited tickets in my possession.

My
ticket allowed me to enter via the “Silver Entrance” (also known as the
nosebleed section). I was given a map to find this location. But this
simple task proved to be almost impossible because many streets were
closed off to pedestrians and traffic. Plus thousands of people
crowded each and every corner of the city. After I took a mile-long
underground walk through a tunnel I reached my destination at 5:45 this
morning. that is a full hour after I had set off on my journey. I was
met by a growing crowd of anxious Obama supporters already in line and
forming an angry mob any time someone made the mistake of cutting in
line.

At eight am the gates were opened and the crowd literally
ran through them. The only way not to get crushed was to run with them.
It was crush or be crushed. The first stop was passing through Secret
Service security. This was perhaps the least stressful event of the
entire day. Shortly after, I was separated from my friend when the
crowd once again started to run to get that prime spot for a viewing.
Our Silver section prime spot was at least three football fields away
from the main attraction. Don’t be fooled that a free ticket will get
you the best seating/standing opportunities. It won’t.

Finally
I had finally shifted around many times and found that special spot
that I could claim as my own. Then all that was left was to wait an
additional two and half hours for the actual ceremony to begin. In the
meantime, I dealt with screaming and borderline violent supporters who
were unhappy about different things such as where their standing spots
were or the children ice skating on the reflecting pool. Even a woman
in a wheelchair was not spared the wrath of the mob! I must say that
the below freezing temperature was also not too pleasing.
Finally,
after a very long and grueling wait, President Obama appeared
before the huge audience to become officially our nation’s leader and
to deliver his moving and powerful address.

This
united us all and the
past nine hours of madness quickly faded away. So what exactly is the
price to having a ticket to Barack Obama’s first appearance as our
leader? It depends on how you look at it. I may have been dying from
the cold, dabbing my runny nose nonstop, standing for nine hours which
only added more damage to my already hurting knee, being crushed and
packed in with an overwhelming crowd.
So I
may look like the day’s
biggest loser. And while I may have been wishing that I was in a warm
bed watching all this on a big screen tv in the comfort of my own home,
this was an opportunity that I would not have traded for anything. This
was something that nobody can ever take away from me. I was there. I
witnessed history with my own eyes.