Diary of a Trip to D.C.

Our scholars witnessed the Second Inauguration of the first African American President, Barack Obama. Read Mary's diary of the trip and be there.

Just as they did four years ago, the ABC scholars gathered their warmest clothing and headed down to Washington DC to join the crowds on the National Mall for the Second Inauguration of the first African American President, Barack Obama. Accompanied by Board President Mary Pritchard, the scholars made the most of their visit--touring famous sights, enjoying the enthusiastic crowds and most importantly, witnessing history being made on Martin Luther King's Birthday. Read Mary's diary of the trip and experience the unforgettable sense of wonder, of patriotism, of the promise of change that carried the scholars through the weekend and will no doubt stay with them far beyond the extroardinary weekend!

Mary's Diary Entry January 23, 2013

We arrived home last evening after an exciting, emotional, and
exhausting weekend in D.C. The girls were fabulous throughout and
wanted to get the most out of every hour that we were there. I can't
tell you how impressed I am with their endurance, their questions
about history and policy, the post inauguration discussion of Obama's
inaugural address, and everyone's willingness to lend a hand loading
and unloading the car multiple times. My heart was singing throughout
the weekend!

Saturday morning, we left Trinity College at 11:30 a.m. and arrived at
George Washington University for a stroll around the urban campus. We
were able to get inside the Student Union building but otherwise saw
only the outside of the library, academic buildings, and student
housing before heading over to the Lincoln Memorial for a picnic. The
temperature was around 50 degrees which was perfect. We spent the
most time at the Lincoln Memorial because it's a powerful place with a
commanding view of the national Mall.

We spent the rest of the afternoon touring the various memorials - the
Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Mem., the WWII memorial, and the new MLK
Memorial. They were very thoughtful at each memorial, taking pictures
of the inscriptions as well as the monuments and sharing their
knowledge of the events.

The MLK monument was surrounded by a sea of people. It was the
highlight for me. They were so excited to have their picture taken at
this memorial. Once they had their fill of photos, they read aloud
various MLK quotes and decided which of his quotes resonated most with
each of them. This prompted a conversation about Obama continuing
MLK's life work and how they wished Martin Luther King could witness
the inaugurations of Obama as President.

We then hiked over to Pennsylvania Avenue to see the White House or
what we could glimpse of it behind the parade viewing structure that
was built in front of it. The view was disappointing but there was a
lot of buzz going on with television camera crews getting their
positions readied for the following day. Happily, there was better
viewing of the White House from the South side following a snack break
at the Civil War monument.

The sun was setting by this point so we headed to the American Museum
of History to see the Inaugural Gowns exhibit and to warm up abit
before heading 12 more blocks to view the Capitol building all decked
out for the Inauguration. By this time, we had headed into "true
grit" territory as we still needed to walk to Chinatown for dinner.
However, everyone pushed through the cold, the tired legs, and the
sore feet and we had a good Chinese meal with Abbi's older brother (in
his 4th year of medical school at Howard) as our special guest. Our
metro stop was half a block away thanks to my daughter Meg's excellent
planning! Meg joined us both Sunday and Monday which was wonderful
for me!

Monday morning, we assembled in the dorm halls at 6:00 a.m. packing
snacks, hand warmers, and checking hats and gloves for warmth. We
walked to the metro station in the dark and had no trouble getting
into D.C. and following our planned route around the barricaded
sections of the city to 18th St. where we could get over to the
national Mall. We were funneled down to the 7th St. section of the
Mall and found a glorious spot in front of a jumbotron with a clear
view of the Capitol. There we waited from 7:45 a.m. on for the
inauguration to begin. The girls didn't have any problem with the
wait - the place is such a scene and the organizers of the event used
the jumbotron to keep us entertained with short takes on the history
of the National Parks in America, the experience of military families
in America, Bo - the First Dog, interviews with the young men and
women who guard the President at the White House, comediens
encouraging the crowds, and songs re-played from the 2009 Lincoln
Memorial concert.

At 10:00 a.m., the jumbotrons went live. At that moment, the girls
jumped to their feet and watched with interest as the Senators, member
of the House of Reps., and other dignitaries were being announced and
guided to their seats. It was a real Who's Who in D.C. moment and
they wanted to know who was who. Of course, waiting for a glimpse of
Jay Z and Beyonce was at the top of their list. I was most struck by
how they embraced all the moments of the Inauguration. The highlights
for them included the Invocation and Obama's Inaugural address. They
were listening and cheering at those moments when Obama's words hit
close to home. When Obama said, "Our journey is not over until . . .
and then listed issues they cared about - immigration, equal pay for
women, affordable education, and opportunity for that little girl born
into poverty - the girls jumped, cheered, and waved their flags. I
had a very large lump in my throat.

We got back to Trinity by 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. I watched the
parade on tv while the girls crashed. When we reassembled to order
takeout, there was a good discussion among the girls about the various
moments of the inauguration, what each thought of the Inaugural Poem,
the woman who gave the Invocation being the widow of Medgar Evers, and
how glad there were that they had come to the inaguration. We have
Felicia to thank because she asked if we could go if Obama won the
election. And, I can tell you that Felicia was a true group leader on
this trip. She was always anticipating what we needed to do next,
took on the role of making sure we all stayed together both days. was
paying attention to the money that we were spending, and helped with
every aspect of keeping us organized. She was my right hand on this
trip if that is the right expression.

We were extremely lucky with the weather! If the inauguration had
been one day later, we would not have been able to go. Tuesday
morning when we loaded up the car, the arctic wind was brutal. It was
all we could do to get our bags in the car without freezing.

Thanks to all of you for supporting this trip!