On a Journey
story by stephanie johns • photos special
Locals to D.C. for Inauguration
Patsy Harris and Ollie Rivers coordinated a bus trip to our nation’s capitol for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
Harris noted that quite a few people from Morgan County went. In all, there were 33 people from all over Georgia as well as one person from New Orleans.
Rivers shared that they had Georgians from Atlanta, Evans, Athens, Avera, Eatonton, Monroe, Greensboro, Newnan, and Covington.
They left on their trip Saturday night and arrived in Washington, D.C. around 2 a.m. Sunday, returning Tuesday night.
Speaking of the 12-hour long bus trip, Harris said it was “well worth it.”
“We had a blast,” she said.
“We had the best time,” she said.
Harris shared that it was about 40 degrees on Inaugural Day, which she said was about 10 degrees warmer than their last inauguration trip four years ago.
“It was a beautiful day, a perfect day,” she said. “Once the clouds burned away it was a perfect, cloudless, sunny day.”
Harris reiterated that the long bus trip and putting up with cold weather were worth it.
“We were so excited for President Obama to be reelected and to have four more years and to be part of the ceremony,” she said.
Rivers said that the weather “wasn’t too bad.”
“I was so excited I didn’t feel the cold,” she said.
Shalisa Peterson agreed that she would not have missed it.
“I don’t know if I would ever see this again as far as an African American president,” she said. “If I do see it again it still will be different because he’s the first.”
A junior at Fort Valley State University, Peterson said she loves history: she’s pursuing a history minor.
“I thought it would be a great experience, once in a lifetime,” she said. “I really wanted to be a part of something like this.”
Peterson added that the event was “very joyous” and that there was a fun, festive spirit.
“Everyone was there for the very same reason,” she said. “Everyone was friendly. I’ve never really seen that before.”
While watching the ceremony Harris said they witnessed free speech in action: a protestor climbed a tree and yelled throughout the ceremony prompting people in the crowd to yell back.
“He was where he should’ve been,” she said, adding that where better to exercise his First Amendment rights than at the inauguration of a president promising to uphold them.
Harris said they went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which she described as King coming out of a mountain. She said that King’s body is detailed in the front half of the memorial while the back half of the memorial is a massive piece of stone.
“It was stunning. We had no idea how big it was,” she said. “It is massive and awe inspiring. People looked at it with their eyes aglow.”
Rivers shared that while walking they also saw the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, African American Art Museum, White House, and Capitol.
Harris contrasted this second inaugural trip with her first.
“There is a difference,” she said. “The first one was more exciting and joyful and filled with amazement.”
She thought for a minute and added, “This one was more feeling proud to be a part of the continuation of Obama’s presidency and the ideals that we hope he expands upon during these four years.”
Rivers shared that she was “very excited” for her first trip.
“My first trip was my first time to Washington, and my first time seeing my President in person,” she wrote. “This year was the icing on the cake!”
Rivers shared her memories of Inauguration Day: “The thing that sticks in my mind the most is the excitement of the crowd as they listened to President Obama’s speech.”
Printed in the January 31, 2013 edition