Inauguration: Sunday

This is the story of one crazy family’s journey to see the Inauguration of… oh, what was that guy’s name again?

We drove down to Washington late Saturday night, and arrived at the hotel around 1:00 in the morning. We rolled out Sunday morning to the National Mall to see the big concert that was taking place at the Lincoln Memorial.

We walked toward the Memorial under grey skies:

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The concert was scheduled to start at 2:30 in the afternoon, and we probably arrived around noon. We waited in a long security line that moved surprisingly quickly, and once inside we found a spot to set up camp:

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With two hours to wait, the kids played their Nintendo DS handheld games and worked their way through our snack reserves. We treated this two-hour wait as a dry run for the longer wait that would take place on Tuesday. The kids waited in good humor, and we got our first taste of the happy vibe that would prevail throughout the week, as we struck up conversations with the people sitting around us.

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We brought Nick’s friend Will with us, and he was an excellent addition to our traveling caravan – playing easily with Nick and Maria, and very sweet with Anna. Here I am with Nick and Will, trying to look tough and not really succeeding:

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As we neared the starting time for the concert, the area around us grew more and more crowded. We didn’t have a direct line of sight to the stage from our position – too many people got there before us – so we had a Jumbotron view like this:

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It was hard for Anna to see anything, so we took turns holding her:

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The concert was amazing – Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, U2, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Garth Brooks, and too many others to name. Most musicians played one song, often in tandem with others. In between, actors and luminaries came on stage to read historical passages. Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, and Denzel Washington were there, again along with too many others to name.

Midway through the show we decided we wanted to try and get closer. We found a spot at the end of a long line of portable latrines where we could stand all together, and it was very crowded there:

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(The smoke in the picture is from a power generator that stood between us and the stage.)

At the end of the concert, we decided to sit tight for a while as the crowd dispersed. That gave us time for – you guessed it – a photo op:

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When we started moving, we walked down the Mall to the World War II memorial, which I hadn’t yet seen:

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I thought often of my grandfather, a Navy man who served in the Pacific theater during the war.

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There are elements within the monument that commemmorate the contributions of every American state and territory to the war effort. We sought out Pennsylvania, of course:

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Night fell, and we kept on snapping pictures. Here are Nick and Will, still better at looking tough than me:

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Chels, Mike, and Anna at WWII Memorial

From the Mall we walked up to 9th and G to a restaurant called Ella’s, where we had a great dinner and watched the Steelers secure a berth to the Super Bowl. We didn’t get a chance to watch the Eagles lose to the Cardinals, and that was probably for the best.

(Continue on to Monday.)