President Barack Obama

Today was a beautiful day in Washington, DC. To be sure, it was bone chillingly cold, but it did not matter.

My day began at 5:15am. I made sure to put on multiple layers of clothing underneath my heavy jacket before I headed toward Washington on Interstate 66 at 5:45. There was heavy traffic on I-66 outside the Washington Beltway, where I had to exit. I-66 inside the beltway was shut down for security reasons. I made my way to a friend’s house in Arlington, about 3 miles from the Mall. From there we walked into DC.

It was a beautiful walk past Arlington National Cemetery and toward the Potomac river. We crossed the river over Memorial Bridge along with thousands headed toward the Inauguration. Coming over Memorial Bridge and sighting the Lincoln Memorial on a clear morning in Washington is a breathtaking experience. It was fitting to be welcomed into Washington by the Lincoln Memorial on such an historic day.

We made it into the Mall, past the Reflecting Pool and just east of the Washington Monument. That is as far as we got. The crowd was immense and we could go no further. We had an obscured view of the Capitol because of a few trees, but it did not matter. We were on the Mall with about 2 million others to witness President Barack Obama take the oath of office. We had a Jumbotron to view the ceremony up close, and we had the energy of the crowd to fight the bitter cold. We had a few hours to wait before we would see history. While we waited, we met a couple that came up from Barbados to be here. We also met a woman from Trinidad & Tobago who was full of sage advice.

We watched the former presidents walk into the Capitol one at a time. And then they announced the presence of former president George W. Bush. The crowd at first booed, and then cheered knowing that it was only minutes before he would be a private citizen. We watched Dick Cheney get wheeled into the Capitol on a wheelchair – karma has struck on his last day in office. We joked that at any moment he may rise out of the wheelchair in Dr. Strangelove fashion – right arm extended. We speculated that he may have pulled a muscle while trying to haul away the man-sized safe in his office. Curiously, we did not hear the announcer introduce Dick Cheney like he had the other former vice presidents.

I remarked that I detested Cheney. The woman from Trinidad & Tobago told me that I shouldn’t hate Dick Cheney – that everyone has something valuable to contribute. I responded that I agreed with her in principle that everyone has something to add, but I thought that in Cheney’s case the proposition was debatable.

Then we saw Barack Obama enter. It occurred to me then that this day, this moment, this unbelievable moment, was actually happening. The rest of what happened in the interim is kind of a blur for me. There was some speeches and some music. And then Barack Obama took the oath of office amid loud cheers from the crowd. Not knowing what to do, I high fived the person next to me, and the woman from Trinidad & Tobago gave me a hug. Barack Obama was now our president.

After Obama’s speech, we made our way across the river for the long walk back, knowing that something special had just taken place.


Click on the image below for a slideshow of my trip to the Mall to watch President Obama’s inauguration.

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13 Responses to President Barack Obama

  1. Amity says:

    Your pictures are great! What an amazing day!

  2. Mash says:

    It really is an amazing day. President Obama. President Obama. President Obama. Sounds pretty good 🙂

    Former President George W Bush! Sounds pretty good too 🙂

  3. Javed says:

    I wish Barack Obama all the best. He is taking over as the most powerful president on earth when we the common middle income people all over the world have been strongly hit by global economic recession, very low quality and barbaric, war-mongering, biased US presidency and bloodbath on the inhumane warfront in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan that goes on unabated without making any dent or impression on the conscience of the US administration.

    When I go through the pictures of death (especially of young Iraqi and Palestinian kids) and destruction I feel empty inside as a fellow human being.

    My country Bangladesh has just reclaimed parliamentary democracy after five years of misrule followed by two years of fascist dictatorship under a self-imposed unelected government. The Awami League, that led Bangladesh to independence under the leadership of the charismatic Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has won a landslide victory in the December, 2008 elections.

    I would urge Barack Obama to engage VP Joe Biden in foreign affairs. Mrs. Clinton’s remarks during the nomination race echoed many of Bush’s failed policies. With regard to Bangladesh, it may be recalled that Mrs. Clinton’s friend Mohammad Yunus was resolutely behind the fascist military-backed government that treated both the former PMs inhumanely. It is also alleged in Dhaka intellectual circles that Yunus was behind the conspiracy to remove the former two PMs from politics by banishing them from the country. His ulterior motive was to form a national government through which opportunists like him could grab power unconstitutionally. But people have foiled his evil design.

    Finally, I would request Barack Obama to strengthen democracy in Bangladesh by extending full support to the popularly elected government of Sheikh Hasina. She is deeply concerned about the price spiral in commodities like rice, fuel and fertilizer. She has taken measures to subsidize fertilizer and fuel prices for the poor farmers who toil day and night for food crops. There are rumours that Awami League’s pro-people policies may anger the World Bank-IMF coterie and donors who might then try to destabilize the Awami League government. Since the USDA heavily subsidizes American farmers I would request you to look at our unique scenario of helping out the toiling poverty-ridden farmers of Bangladesh from a humane point of view. Please Mr. President, do so and advise USDA and USAID to comply with our policies without creating hindrances or embarassment for the new populist government. Please extend all out support to Sheikh Hasina.

    Mr. Obama, you should also help the Awami League government nab the still at large assassins of the founding father of the nation and her family members who were murdered on 15th of August, 1975.

    Least but not the last, please shake up the US approach to international relations. Unbriddled aggression and unchallenged hegemony will only hurt US interests.

    The Bush-Cheney doctrine of naked aggression and brutal mayhem has been totally discredited. America must realize that in the next decade the world will see the rise of two or three economic and military superpowers that must be befriended by the US administration. Antagonizing them will only flare up new disasters.

    May God bless America! May God bless you! May God bless us all!




    I like most Bangladeshis was glued to the TV for several hours. The Obama-Biden combination looked absolutely superb. Obama’s speech kept the audience spellbound.

  4. Javed says:

    In my previous post sent a few moments back,it should be ‘Last but not the least’.

  5. Robbie says:

    Nice pics!

    I am so glad that the Bush/Cheney regime is out of power. All I kept telling my coworkers was “Free at last, free at last, God almighty, we’re free at last!”

  6. Lopa Tasneem says:

    As I was watching former president Bush hopping into the helicopter after the ceremony, a friend of mine asked, “Do you know where he’s been taken away?” I said, “yea, first to Air Force base and then to Texas.” He said in a serious voice, “no…he’s been taken to Guantanamo Bay”. I wish. 🙂

    Also, did you watch Jon Stuart last night? He made Cheney look like a super villain again…in a wheel chair with a white cat on his lap and Imperial March from Starwars on the background. It was very funny!

  7. Vickie says:

    Hi there!
    I love that Jon Stewart did that about Cheney! I like Mash’s version of Karma getting Cheney back. I was thinking that it was an attention getting action-but then he would never want to look weak. I hadn’t even noticed that they didn’t announce him! He just got wheeled to the left by a woman with no pomp at all-good riddance. Go home and read a romance novel for a change.

    Mash-did you ask the women from Barbados and Trinidad/Tobago what possessed them to come here for this day? I know it means a lot for African Americans, but they aren’t even citizens. Makes me sad that I live so close and couldn’t even go, but these women did. I am so glad that you went and had such a great experience!

  8. Vickie says:

    Oh- did you hear people singing Na na na na-na na na-hey hey Goodbye ? I heard it on MSNBC and didn’t know if it was widespread or only the people around the camera.

  9. Ingrid says:

    Mash, I saw your pics yesterday. All I can say is [high five]!!


  10. Mash says:

    I have to watch the Daily Show from last night. I am sorry I missed it. I was so worn out from the day that I was dozing in and out all evening.

  11. Mash says:

    Vikie, I had left the Mall by the time Bush flew overhead, but two friends who were still on the Mall (in different locations) said the crowd was singing as a parting shot to Bush. They had also sung “Na na na na-na na na-hey hey Goodbye” in front of the White House on November 4th 🙂

  12. Hasib says:

    Obama is on the same path of appeasing Israel as his predecessor Bush was. I did not hear a single statement from him about recent Israeli atrocities in Gaza. He by his own admission is going to do everything to help Israel ‘defend’ itself and we have seen how Israel ‘defended’ itself by killing innocent men,women and children in Gaza.

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