The biggest ticketed event of the year took place in Washington, D.C. last Monday. Nearly 1 million people traversed the national mall to witness the second and final swearing-in of President Barack Obama. Among these men, women and children were those who obtained coveted tickets, guaranteeing them a secured viewing location between the Washington monument and capitol.
First timers and repeat Obama supporters came armed with patriotic blankets, folding lawn chairs and layers of clothing, draped in Presidential paraphernalia to navigate their way using color coded maps to patiently wait at gates that opened four hours before the ceremony began.
The yellow ticket holders were found north of D St. NW, just thousands of feet from the capitol where the ceremony took place. Awaiting commencement on the lawn, they danced, laughed and reflected on the situations that moved them to witness the momentous occasion.
Sheree Hawkins, 25, from Upper Marlboro, Md. braved the extreme cold during the inauguration of 2009 to view President Obama’s first swearing-in from the inside of Washington’s Newseum. While being relieved from the below -freezing temperatures, this experience was not good enough for her.
“I felt like I needed to be closer to Obama this time. I wanted to make sure I could scream and raise my voice and be among the crowd,” she said.
So this year, Sheree wrote her Congressman, Steny Hoyer, who granted her a yellow ticket and a closer view of the action.
Just behind Sheree were best friends, Frances Carter and Tiffany Riley. The 35-year-olds, who met at their Mississippi high school, have relocated to Virginia and Texas, respectively. They used the presidential occasion as a time to reunite and create new memories with Tiffany’s two sons, 4 and 7.
“I’m just happy to share this experience with my best friend and my god sons,” said Frances.
Standing next to Tiffany was another Texan, Doris Dogill. The 62-year-old has been volunteering for the Obama campaign for the past four years and flew, unaccompanied, from Pearland to support her elected candidate.
“I’m thrilled to be here. This is history and there was no way I was going to miss it,” said Doris, as she proudly stood alone in her red, white and blue scarf.
Just feet away from Doris was Indianapolis couple, Charles and Tavonna Askew. As his wife rested on their bright red blanket, Charles remained standing to take in the view of his surrounding yellow ticket holders, often acting as cameraman for those wanting group shots of their attendance.
On another blanket not too far from the Askews was 24-year-old Hakim Walker. Recently relocating to DC from Brooklyn, N.Y. to attend George Washington University, the mathematics scholar found himself as a tour guide for the weekend.
Hakim took his Las Vegas house guests to neighborhoods like the U Street corridor to experience Washington’s rich history of cuisine, music and culture. However, Hakim’s most promising tour destination was in front of the capitol on a blanket, to witness history in the making, among his fellow yellow-ticket holders.