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American Today

In the Community

Inauguration Update 1: Living History

By Adrienne Frank

How did AU staff and student inaugural volunteers fare? Did they survive the cold and the crowds? Read on for more details about the historic day:

Anne Kaiser was one of 10,000 “icicles” who marched in the inaugural parade. Despite the bitter cold and the empty stands—the parade started 90-minutes late—Kaiser, who marched with a group of 200 returned Peace Corps volunteer, said it was an incredible experience. “The Obamas waved at us, and someone swears he pointed at the Kenyan flag,” she said. It was also a very long day for Kaiser, who “got on the Metro before 6 a.m. and didn’t get off the Metro until after 7 p.m.!”

Sarah Bayne, director of employee benefits and communication, set off from her Arlington home at 5 a.m. on inauguration day to document the crowds for a video art project. After taking a taxi with seven strangers to 12th Street and Independence Avenue, however, a new story began to emerge. Bayne, who camped out on the mall by the Seventh Street entrance, found herself fascinated by the mechanics of the inauguration—“the behind-the-scenes activity that you didn’t see on the news.” Standing “shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back” with people, Bayne documented some Army National Guard troops, who received a round of applause from the crowd. She also witnessed several medical emergencies and saw one woman arguing with a police officer. Despite a few flair-ups, though, Bayne saw “a real sense of community” emerge on the mall. “By the end of the day, the people around me had become my buddies, and we all worked together to make sure we were safe.”

Richard Semiatin, professor of political science in the Washington Semester program, chronicled the day’s events from an anchor desk in Lafayette Park for the Associated Press Television Network. The video was streamed live on Yahoo, AOL, and on the USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and U.S. News & World Report Web sites.

For Reid Rosenberg ’10, the inauguration was the culmination of months of hard work. Last semester, Rosenberg served as an advance consultant for the Obama campaign, producing and managing events across the country. On more than a few occasions, Rosenberg worked 36 hours straight, locating a venue, working with vendors, and even securing port-a-potties. After an event, he would receive an e-mail and plane ticket to his next destination. Over the course of the semester, he organized events that included Bill Clinton, Jill Biden, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and others.

Patricia Rogers, SPA/’07, was one of 150 AmeriCorps alumni who marched in the parade. Rogers, a member of AmeriCorps VISTA in the Montgomery County Executive Office of Community Partnerships, works on projects to improve the lives of low-income people. She documented her inaugural experience on her blog.

It was a long day for Alicia Mandac. The CAS academic counselor, one of 15,000 Inaugural Committee volunteers, was on the mall at 6 a.m. for the swearing-in, and didn’t leave the city until 12:30 a.m. “I was so cold, and I’m still tired,” laughed Mandac, the day after the inauguration. “But, it was definitely something I’ll never forget!” As a greeter at the Washington Convention Center, Mandac mingled with ball-goers, including R&B star John Legend, actor Kal Penn, and funnyman-turned-politican Al Franken. Around 11 p.m., she also got a glimpse of President Obama’s motorcade. “It was such a huge production. There were police and a helicopter,” she said. “I really couldn’t see anything, but I knew he was in there, and that just made my whole day.”