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Gary Tuchman | BIO
You saw and heard Barack Obama and Joe Biden get inaugurated. But I concentrated on seeing and hearing the lucky Americans who won the equivalent of Willie Wonka's Golden Ticket.
The tickets for the front seats to view the ceremony were highly prized and very practically priced. They were free. As I walked onto the Capitol grounds, I had a woman offer me 200 dollars for mine. I wish I had another one to give her for free. I told her sorry and found a seat in the section where I was assigned.
What immediately struck me was the number of older people. I noticed that because it was so very cold, particularly while you were sitting still. Typically, when the weather is that frigid you wouldn't see so many elderly people outside for hours at a time. But these people were not going to be denied their chance to be an eyewitness to history.
Behind me was a woman who told me she watched Martin Luther King Junior's famous "I Have a Dream" speech in person. When Barack Obama was introduced, tears started streaming from her eyes. When he finished the oath, she was overwhelmed with emotion.
The other people sitting near me reacted in different ways. Some cried, some whooped and hollered, some just kept snapping photos. The crowd was quiet at the appropriate times, and mostly offered polite applause for George Bush and Dick Cheney. I say mostly, because a distance away from me, we did hear a fairly loud chant of "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye," repeated several times when the outgoing president was shown on the jumbotron, but it only lasted a short while.
The dramatic ceremony then continued and I never once heard complaints about the cold. Getting off the Capitol grounds took me a half hour because of the crowds, and was highlighted by George and Laura Bush departing via helicopter right over our heads. Most of the people walking near me were fervent Obama supporters, but they delayed their departure to watch and respectively wave to the former President of the United States.
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