Skip Navigation
NPR News

Inauguration Frustration

by Brakkton Booker
Jan 21, 2009

Share this


Explore this

Reported by

Brakkton Booker

TMM producer Brakkton Booker explains why yesterday's happenings will always be remembered ... perhaps, for slightly different reasons.

Thanks, Lee. Brakkton Booker, here ...

I wake up hearing trumpets playing "America the Beautiful" outside my window on the morning of the inauguration for Barack Obama. It was my first sign that Jan.20, 2009, was no ordinary day. The music came from an ensemble playing five stories below my fiance's tightly cramped office overlooking the National Mall. We used her office to save time in getting to our spot amongst the one to two million people expected to descend upon the National Mall and surrounding historic areas in Washington, D.C. and to share this historic moment first hand — the swearing in of Barack Obama as America's first black President.

The time is 8:00am. It's a pretty late start on this day. But we're in no rush. We're members of a most fortunate group — we have passes to the Inauguration Ceremony, one of the most coveted possessions in the world right now.

We hit the streets where Obama-mania is already in full swing. Hustlers peddling pins, t-shirts, neckties, sweaters, hats — everything imaginable with Barack Obama's face on it. The mood is cheerful and excitement is in the air.

I'm standing with people who are in special lines snaking along perimeters for as far as the eye can see. They're all trying to get past the heavily guarded checkpoints and into the promised land — the "standing room only area" in front of the inaugural stage.

We scout out a spot to tactlessly cut the line where so many others had been standing in for hours. If anyone gave a fuss, we had our press badges handy. My cockiness was delivered a swift smackdown, though. Come to find out, today especially, my trusty press badge gets me nowhere. And neither will our so-called "coveted" passes to the Inauguration Ceremony.

"We're not accepting those passes here" a policeman says to me about 100 feet from the entry way to the promise land.

"What? Are you serious?" I ask. My pass reads: "The 56th Swearing-In Ceremony."

"The pass is yellow," I tell the officer," ...the sign overhead says 'Yellow Passes Here.'"

"No. I'm sorry sir, that's not the right pass."

My first stirring to those trumpets earlier and the pleasant feelings I carried into this day give way to disbelief and rage.

My dreams of having a front row seat to history are gone!

My anger causes me to overheat. The three layers of clothing I wear to insulate my body from the frigid temperatures are now working against me. Beads of sweat begin to sprinkle down my forehead. We walk for blocks, and never find another way in.

It's too late. The time is now 10 minutes to noon.

The new President will be sworn in just minutes from now. I'm taking it much harder than my fiance. She anticipated this might happen and seems happy that we are together for this historic moment.

We make one more desperate attempt to get inside the perimeter but failed. Right then, I hear thunderous cheers and applause. Mr.Obama must have made it to the stage by now. I begin to sulk and take a rest alongside one of the thousands of street barricades set up to keep traffic from getting this close to where Barack Obama takes the oath of office.

I see people running towards the gates. Their smiles and eyes fill with exhilaration. This is the moment they've been waiting on too. Just hearing Barack Obama's voice though loudspeakers was all they needed. It didn't matter that they didn't have a bird's eye view. They could feel the magnitude of this moment.

And then I sat there, still sulking, I realized I was being how shallow and selfish I was being. This was a first in the nation's history. I let my anger fade and started to take in the moment.

Chills ran down my back. I look up at my fiance and give her a kiss. I'm happy I could share this moment with her, too. We were there, maybe not exactly where we wanted to be, but we were there. We were witnesses to history.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

Visitor comments

on:

NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.