Becoming a part of history
Several Rutherford County citizens were a part of history this week as they witnessed the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Celebration in Washington D.C.
Doris Crute, coordinator of Fresh Start Tour Service, set up a tour to go to the historical event.
"I pick up tours based on people's interests. I was out eating dinner one day after church and a gentleman said 'Why don't you set up a tour to go to the inauguration?" Crute said. "I said that we could do that, sounds like it will be easy. So we set up a tour to go to the inauguration. Anybody who wanted to go could go. We took about 10 up there and we had a grand time."
Four members of the group were students from Isothermal Community College; Nicholas Proctor, Akeem Anderson, Sha'na' Watkins and Mike Carson.
"We left Sunday at 8 a.m. like we planned and drove during the night. We got into Washington D.C. somewhere close to 4 a.m. on Monday. We parked and the inauguration journey began," Crute said. "We got into the gates with the general public and we walked down to Pennsylvania Avenue and that is where we parked for about 10 hours."
Crute says that her group got the best of both worlds being close enough to see the parade live and the other activities on a big screen.
"We were able to see all of the coming attractions leading up to the inauguration and the address from the President. We were able to see all of that right behind us from a big screen television, so we got both worlds," Crute said.
She says that it was just luck that they got to be that close to the action.
"We went in with the general public line because you had to have tickets to go through the National Mall. I decided not to get the tickets, because through all the research I did, I learned that even if you had a ticket, you might not get in," Crute said. "I said we would just do like everyone else and go camp out like homeless people. We had no clue that we were going to get that close in like that."
Crute says her favorite part of the day was seeing the President in the parade.
"My favorite part was seeing that President come down that road. You know how you were so excited about Santa Claus coming to town? It was like the President is getting ready to come to town," Crute said. "I didn't want to miss it, so I didn't want to talk to anybody, my mind was focused on it. I was talking to my aunt at that particular time and I told her that I loved her, but I couldn't talk to her. I want to see this. This is what I came for."
One particular moment made the parade more exciting.
"At one time when the parade was going on and all the cars were coming down, I kept asking when is the President coming down. Someone said he was coming. When I saw him, he looked me dead in the face. Well that is what I felt," Crute said.
"We were reminiscing after the parade and other people said he looked them dead in the face and I said 'No he didn't, he looked me dead in the face'. That is how close he was. From where I was standing, if he had gotten out of that car, I would have probably just went crazy. It was unbelievable."
This was Crute's first time attending an inauguration ceremony.
"This one I made more of an effort to get to. I wanted to go in 2009, but there was a lot of things going on at that time," Crute said. "But when I noticed that it was the 50th anniversary of the march in Washington, Martin Luther King's birthday and the 150th Emancipation Proclamation year, I thought what better way to celebrate an historical event than to celebrate it in Washington. And that is what we did."
She believes the trip was also a great learning experience for the students.
"All of the students learned so much. Two of them got the chance to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and saw other federal buildings and took pictures of them. It was a learning experience for everybody," Crute said. "One of the students was talking about how they were a part of history. They have a lot to tell their families for generations to come. They can say wow I was there."
Kelsey Fletcher, senior at East Rutherford High School, also made the trip to Washington while participating in the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference with 1,900 students from across the country.
"I attended NYLF/MED, which is a national leadership forum on medicine, two summers ago. Because I was an alumni of that, I was invited to go to this one," Fletcher said.
She left for the conference on Saturday, Jan. 19 and returned on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
"We got there and we did some typical meet and greet things and got to hear from Tori Taylor, the national president of the college democrats and the national president of the college republicans. It was pretty cool because Tori was actually from UNC Charlotte and from a small town in North Carolina, so there was a little bit of relation there," Fletcher said. "The second day, we did more with groups, walked through the campaign process and then we got to hear Dr. Condoleezza Rice speak, which was really really good."
Fletcher says that the part of Rice's speech that had the biggest impact on her was when she talked about prejudices.
"It was all very memorable, but the biggest part was when she talked about prejudice because she is African-American and a woman. She was basically saying that there are two types of prejudice; the kind that hurts you and kind you just have to ignore and prove wrong," Fletcher said. "That was probably the best part, especially to me as a female that might aspire to be a politician. That was really important to me to just override the discrimination that is still there."
Other highlights of Fletcher's trip included hearing speakers such as General Wesley Clark, attending the Black Tie and Gown Gala Inaugural Celebration and getting a private screening of All the President's Men followed by a panel discussion with renowned Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and journalist Nick Clooney. However, her favorite part of the trip was the actual inauguration, which she watched from the National Mall.
"As into politics as I am, it was amazing to be up there with 800,000 other people that were just as excited as I was. We actually got pretty close to the Capitol building, so we got to see a lot of stuff and got to see all of the politicians coming in," Fletcher said. "It was just amazing to be out there and be part of that moment in history."
She says the best part about the inauguration event was seeing the politicians.
"The inaugural address was great, but my favorite part was watching all of the people come in, all of the politicians that I admire and keep up with," Fletcher said. "Seeing them all come in and knowing they were not too far away from me was probably my favorite part. It was amazing."