Alumnus Blog: Sharing the Inaugural Experience from D.C.
Sharing the Inaugural Experience from D.C.
by Alex Will '08
Have you ever been to the Plymouth Rock? Growing up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, I had more field trips there than I care to remember. But one thing I will never forget is that no matter what time of the year it was, one could stand next to the Plymouth Rock and hear multiple languages being spoken. People came from all over the world to see the place where the roots of these United States had been planted.
I just didn't get it.
I never understood why people came halfway around the world to see a dirty rock sitting in an even dirtier hole. Throw in a bromidic wax museum and nauseating period garb and you have a bona fide tourist trap. At least that was how I looked at it. The truth of the matter was that I was wrong. I had become desensitized to the implications of what happened there in 1620. And a part of me worries that it's happening to me again, only this time I'm in Washington, D.C., and the part of the Plymouth Rock is being played by the inauguration of Barack Obama. Can you blame me? Anywhere that may have a warm body, someone is using the inauguration to make some money. Restaurants have drinks and meals named after him, every place with a cash register has more Barack Obama paraphernalia then you would know what to do with, and don't tell me you've never seen those commercials advertising the Barack Obama coin collection. It's
all rather overwhelming.
Regardless of my (and I'm sure others) desensitization to the festivities in D.C., people are coming by the thousands to the area. It isn't even worth driving up the street anymore; there is no telling how long it will take. Last weekend, every highway in and out of D.C. was backed up. There was a 20-mile delay on I-95! And that was last weekend! Even public transportation is getting tight. No matter what metro stop you hope to get on or off at, expect it to be packed like rush hour.
Despite my gloom-and-doom description and rather crabby reaction to the festivities, the truth is, this isn't like the Plymouth Rock. Well, at least in the way I view the Plymouth Rock. In fact, this inauguration and the Plymouth Rock have something in common. Just like standing around on a spring day in Plymouth, at the inauguration on Tuesday, one is going to hear many different languages. People have and will come from all over the world, stand in the freezing cold weather, maybe even a mile away, just to say they were there for when the United States fulfilled the words memorized by 5th graders all over the country:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
The Plymouth Rock and this inauguration represent a pivotal moment in the history of the United States. Throwing aside political partisanship, they share a common thread in allowing people to use them as a medium for the opportunities the future can hold — the idea that anyone can accomplish something great, and possibly change the world.
It doesn't take very long for me to remember why this moment is so historic and why I am so lucky to be living in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, as I stand with millions of other people and watch the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, I will be sure to take at least one moment to let it all sink in. I won't forget to remember the sacrifices that so many made to make this moment possible, even the 53 English separatists who arrived in Plymouth almost 400 years ago. I hope you will too.