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Hard to forget Obama’s inauguration

Posted in Uncategorized by mrochele on January 21, 2009

But, will all of the preemptive celebration and talk of change pay off?

When I sat down Tuesday evening to try and write about what I did on Inauguration Day, I couldn’t – which is why I waited until now.

It wasn’t that I had writer’s block or that I did not have anything to say; rather, I was just tired of the whole thing.

Reporting for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, I had spent most of the morning and early afternoon covering several local gatherings where people, mainly Obama supporters, joined to watch the telecast of the inauguration festivities in Washington D.C.

My last stop of the day, but most notable, was at the University of Massachusetts’s screening where an estimated 1,000 people watched network coverage of the inauguration, according to event planner Kevin Libby, a senior majoring in Social Thought and the Political Economy.

The turnout was much greater than the 50 to 100 originally expected and event organizers opened The Hatch food court to make room for those who could not fit in the packed Cape Cod Lounge and Student Union Ballroom. If you don’t believe me, there’s video footage from The Collegian to prove it.

Hundreds wait for the doors to open at the screening of Tuesday's inaugural telecast at the Academy of Music in Northampton. (Matt Rocheleau/The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Jan. 26, 2009)

Hundreds wait for the doors to open at the screening of Tuesday's inaugural telecast at the Academy of Music in Northampton. (Matt Rocheleau/The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Jan. 26, 2009)

Prior to going to UMass, I had started my morning in Northampton where it was a full house at the Academy of Music. By the time I arrived at around 10:30 a.m., hundreds were lined up outside waiting to watch the inaugural broadcast. About 800 people had packed into the theater by the event’s scheduled start at 11 a.m., according to Debra J’ Anthony, the venue’s executive director. Another 600 showed up for the rebroadcast at 6 p.m., she said.

After leaving Northampton, I headed to Rafters Sports Bar & Restaurant in Amherst where an inauguration get-together was also held. Inside, it was tough to find a table or place to sit with still about an hour before Barack Obama’s swearing in and subsequent speech at noon.

A packed crowd at Rafters Sports Bar & Restaurant in Amherst gather to watch the broadcast of Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday afternoon. (Matt Rocheleau/The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Jan. 26, 2009)

A packed crowd at Rafters Sports Bar & Restaurant in Amherst gather to watch the broadcast of Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday afternoon. (Matt Rocheleau/The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Jan. 26, 2009)

When I finally returned to my apartment I turned on the TV and began working on the article. Of course, what was on but NBC’s inaguration coverage that I had watched for a short time before I headed out that morning.

I’m a big fan of “NBC Nightly News” host Brian Williams and an ever bigger fan of his predecessor, Tom Brokaw who stepped down in 2004. So, when I saw the two were seated side-by-side covering the ceremonies in D.C., along with other recognizable NBC reporters, I decided to watch for a little while. And, I must say that Williams & Brokaw are an unstoppable punch when teamed up like they were on Tuesday.

Then, during what seemed like the only 15 minutes of the day where cameras weren’t fixed on Obama, Sen. Ted Kennedy collapsed during a lunch with the newly appointed president and other political leaders. Kennedy reportedly suffered a seizure and was whisked away to the hospital. So, I stayed tuned as all of this news was breaking.

Later, Obama, his wife and two daughters rolled along on the parade route through downtown D.C. Brian Williams kept mentioning how much security there was and called the city the safest place to be. Naturally, the more he talked about it the more concerned I got that he was being overconfident in his assessment, which kept me watching.

All in all, I had heard the word inauguration and the name Barack Obama way too many times. The whole thing was a bit much for me.

Many of his supporters have painted this man as the savior our country has been waiting for. He has become, in many peoples’ eyes, a world-renowned, rock-star-esque figure incapable of making a mistake.

Our new president should be commended for his historic victory in the November’s election, but amidst all of the praise, celebrating and patting one another on the back, we can’t lose focus of our responsibility to hold him and the rest of the country’s leaders accountable for their choices makes.

I don’t doubt that Obama can make a difference and improve things in the U.S. However, he will disappoint us at times like all leaders, and humans in general do. And, based on what I saw on Tuesday, I worry that some of us have fallen so in love with this man that we will fail to our job.

(Links to stories on DailyCollegian.com were removed from this post because the site has since been completely redesigned which has altered the link paths to these stories, and not all of the archives have transitioned over to the new site yet.)

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