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Students travel to inauguration, experience patriotic atmosphere

On Saturday, Emily Becker and several of her friends packed up her Toyota Scion and hit the road for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in Washington, D.C.

“We are all seniors and wanted to take a little adventure,” said Becker, a political science and policy studies major.

Becker and her friends stayed at her family’s home in Bethesda, Md., a short drive from downtown Washington, D.C., on the first night. On the eve of the inauguration, they camped out at her dad’s office near Capitol Hill, she said.

The group wanted to be close to the next morning’s events and avoid busy public transportation, said Becker, who attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.

Becker and her friends did not have official tickets to the inauguration, but figured they could find a general standing area. What they initially thought was an entrance to the National Mall turned out to be an entrance for the parade route.

“Our little mishap turned out to be cool,” said Stuart Lang, a senior computer science major who was part of the group. “We ended up on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street. It was only like, 20 feet away from where Biden and Obama stepped out of their motorcade.”

But because of their error, the group was unable to watch the swearing-in process on the steps of the Capitol, Becker said. While they could hear the ceremony happening, there were no screens set up on Pennsylvania Avenue to watch.

“We tried streaming the event on our phones, but it lagged and was blurry,” Lang said. “It was just really cool being in D.C. for my first inauguration. It was also the first time visiting the city.”

Olivia O’Connell, a senior Italian and psychology major, was able to get a good spot on the National Mall. O’Connell traveled down with Becker and their friends for her first inauguration, and spent the night before with her friend at George Washington University.

“My friend and I got there at around 9 a.m., and there was still enough space for us to get close to a Jumbotron,” O’Connell said in an email. “We could see and hear everything. The crowd got pretty cramped leading up to 11:30 a.m., when the ceremony started.”

As the politicians made their entrances, the crowd erupted in cheers, said O’Connell. The Clinton family elicited the loudest applause, she said.

Keith Holmes, a senior mechanical engineering major, also attended the inauguration. He attended Obama’s 2009 inauguration as well.

“Last inauguration felt really rushed for me,” he said. “The crowd was smaller this time and we got to spend the day with some great people and make some new friends.

While the inauguration featured the typically cold January weather of Washington, D.C., it did not bother most.

“The weather was fine; being packed in like sardines makes even cold days tolerable,” Jonathan Lee, a sophomore policy studies and information management and technology major, said in an email. “Everyone was fine but it was not always cordial; I saw a protestor near me on Capitol Hill climb a tree and security was unable to get him out.”

This was Lee’s first time attending an inauguration.

Said Lee: “The crowd was awesome. It made me so proud to be an American to see hundreds of thousands of people turn out to celebrate our democracy.”

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