Mission: Inaugural

January 22, 2013

A Republican! We found one!

You don’t need press credentials when there’s so much to admire outside the VIP areas. The high school teacher who knit dozens of matching scarves for inauguration-bound students. The kids selling handmade T-shirts to raise money for their college, “not for drugs.” The security guard who boasted he “could kill a man 13 times before he hit the ground.” We sent six reporters to document the triumph of patience and planning that is Inauguration Day. With silly goals, of course.

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Extra Mission: Find Kids Who Care About Politics

When I was 10, I was fascinated by the workings of the federal government. At least a few kids at the inauguration must be as nerdy as I was, and I want to know what they think about the state of our democracy. Plan of attack: Bicycle downtown, then wander the Mall on foot. — Fiona Zublin

Extra Mission: Find Food

Cold weather and historic events pique my appetite, so I’m checking out the food options around the Mall. I’d like to talk to food truck vendors, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll spy on others’ snacks. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just take the pulse of the crowd via old-fashioned eavesdropping. Plan of attack: I’ll Metro from Court House to Farragut West. From there, I’ll walk. — Katie Aberbach


6 a.m., At Home: Still asleep. This is a shot of my press pass from last night. I WAS STALKING BILL NYE IT IS NOT MY FAULT OK GOD. OK, it is my fault. Shared fault between me and my useless alarm clock: Forty percent me and 60 percent alarm clock. Wait, 30 percent me, 60 percent alarm, 10 percent Bill Nye the science guy.

7 a.m., At Home: The sunrise, as witnessed immediately after waking up an hour and a half late. It’s so pretty! And yet.

8 a.m., 7th and E streets NW: The crowd is cold and cranky.

9 a.m., Newseum: In search of warmth (and more adorable interviewees), I head into the Newseum. These little Bo replicas count as adorable, but are distressingly silent on matters of state.

10 a.m., Newseum: I found a group of kids wandering around in a pack. Michael, 14, explained that he thinks it’s important that Americans get their basic needs taken care of, but says he worries that the health care bill will encourage people to be lazy.

11 am, Newseum: Gabe, 10, and Langston, 8, are here from Indianapolis with their parents. Gabe’s school had a mock election and Obama won “by a lot.” Gabe’s dad, Howard, asks, “Did he tell you I’d disown him if he ever voted Republican?”

noon, Newseum: Rod, 13, a class president from Augusta, Ga., and his family got to the Newseum at 4:30 a.m. to get the best parade-watching spot. He says he was really glad to hear Obama talk about infrastructure in his address.

1 p.m., Newseum: Morgan, 9, and Candace, 10, are here for their first inauguration. Candace was proud of Obama for being “really honest” and acknowledging that America needs to do better. Then they went back to decorating each other with the little American flags that are littered all over the building.

 


6 a.m., Inside Court House station: My train arrives just as I do, and it’s surprisingly half-empty. Most people on it are heavily bundled, obviously headed to the same place as me. Everyone has that sleepy-excited look.

7 a.m., Pennsylvania Ave. and 12th St. NW: I tried to find food trucks along Penn., but got turned away at two entryways because I don’t have parade tickets. I’ll find food elsewhere. On the bright side, there’s this pretty sunrise to look at.

8 a.m., At the Smithsonian Castle: Not much action here yet, but the good-humored cafe cashiers (who got in at 5 a.m.) are ready for the crowds. I eat a muffin and use the facilities before heading back out.

9 a.m., The Mall, near Air & Space Museum: I’m standing near a Jumbotron and it’s crowded already. High schoolers next to me are munching on strawberries, grapes and granola bars. FLOTUS would be proud.

10 a.m., Same spot: Overheard as we watch a clip about Bo: “Man, that dog has such a luxurious life.” I chat with the women in front of me: Peggy from Texas, left, Connie, center, and Christina, both from Louisiana.

11 a.m., Same spot: The Jumbotron shows the Obamas arriving at the Capitol; the crowd cheers, passes judgment. On Michelle: “Nice coat.” “Beautiful.” On the President: “Look at that swagger. He’s got it.”

noon, Same spot: The students seem in awe as Obama speaks (“Good day to be an American, kids,” their teacher said earlier.) One woman behind me is restless: “I’m leaving as soon as Beyonce comes on.”

1 p.m, Independence Ave., near Washington Monument: Walking away from the the ceremony with aching feet and some serious hunger pangs, I overhear something I really identify with: “It’s time for a nap.”

 

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