Lisa Ling's Inauguration Blog
I gave a speech to around 10,000 high school students from all over the U.S.at the Presidential Inaugural Conference—it was quite awesome. I brought my flip cam up to the podium and asked that they say HI to me on camera.
The conference brings together an impressive group of keynote speakers. This year students will hear from Al Gore, Colin Powell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and historian Doris Kerns Goodwin. I was utterly humbled to be amongst such distinguished group of speakers. Speaking to students who range in age from 14 to 17 is sometimes tough. Attention spams are at times limited. Though many endured harrowing travel schedules to get the University of Maryland campus, the students were very attentive and asked terrific questions of me. It's inspiring to be amongst young people who are truly energized about the political process and what they will be experiencing this week. Even though none of them can vote, the desire to be engaged was apparent.
All of these students will be on the mall when Barack Obama is inaugurated. They'll be 10,000 of millions perhaps, there to witness history.
I lived in DC for a short period and my husband lived here and practiced medicine for more than a decade. Never, have we seen this city so electrified. People have come from every corner of the earth to experience this week. Though we are experiencing challenges of epic proportions economically, diplomatically and environmentally; it's nice to feel a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. As a former DC resident, though the traffic is quite impenetrable, it's nice to see local businesses benefitting from the infusion of people and cash.
7:52 a.m. Friday, January 16, 2009
It's Friday and I've just boarded my flight to DC. It's been a long time since I packed a bag as big as the one I brought because it's not easy to figure out what to bring when you're going to black tie balls in freezing cold temperatures. I've got puffy coats, UGGs, gowns and 5 inch strappy sandals in one big ole duffle. I've heard reports that the night of the inauguration there will be thousands of people—dressed to the nines having to walk miles to their respective venues—please don't snow! This is when I get envious of the male species.
Despite the fact that it's said to be the coldest inauguration in years, I am so excited for a week that I know I'll re-count to my kids in perpetuity. I have heard countless stories of people just jumping into their cars with their kids and heading out to D.C. to experience history.
Perhaps more than any other year—I know I've only been alive through 7 U.S. presidents—this inauguration belongs to everyone. Rich, poor, black, white; this particular presidency symbolizes something more all encompassing than ever before. A man of mixed race, raised by a single mother and grandparents, an immigrant father who abandoned him, bounced around from country to country, city to city, Ivy league educated, public servant. Even though President Obama is inheriting two wars and a global financial meltdown, for a few days, the world will revel in the historical significance of this momentous occasion. It's going to be a good week...even if it's cold.