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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'll have a short piece in the Indy tomorrow about my experience in the crowd at the Mall, so for now I'll limit myself to a few comments and some photos. We left Arlington a little later than we'd hoped—around 8:30—and so there was really not much chance to get into the Huge Crowd by the reflecting pool. (You can see in one of the photos just about as close as we got—past the Washington Monument there was just no going.) We settled in instead on 17th St NW right at the edge of the road, which turned out to be the perfect spot: not only was it right in front of a screen, but the cops were trying to keep 17th St clear and so no one was able to crowd in front of us.

There was a lot of waiting involved, but it was an amazing experience, if only to see Aretha Franklin belt out the best version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" ever (land where my father died—she, too, sings America); to hear the loose live mic going out over the Mall for nearly the entire event; to see hilarious closed-captioning typos like "[CHEESE AND APPLAUSE]" and "♫ Threat ring"; trying to get an "underrated!" chant started after Jimmy Carter's first appearance; and to hear Rev. Lowry's show-stopping benediction:

'Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen'...
And, you know, Obama. And Obamaniacs. I say this in the article, but it felt like liberation.

Now, of course, the real work begins.

Some of my best photos are of some nearby protesters, which I'll have a separate post about. But for now, here's a picture of our basic view:

A few of the people we shared the moment with:

Canadians! Who let them in?