Monday, January 26, 2009

Inauguration Day Through Navy Son's Eyes

I lazily spent my Martin Luther King Day shining shoes and getting my uniform A-J squared away for the big parade. I spent the remainder of the day working on homework and napping because I knew that I had an inspection at 0130. Following that, our group of 90 Midshipman was herded to the awaiting Naval Academy buses. We left around 0230 and had a police escort consisting of approximately 30-40 police cars, they were everywhere! Three hours later, which normally only takes thirty minutes, we were in D.C.. All the major roads and bridges were closed, so we utilized back roads and parking lots. It felt kind of like a police chase, with police cars everywhere and turn after turn. I dozed off to find us parked in front of a grocery store. We spent several hours sitting in this parking lot waiting. I dozed off again. I awoke to find us at the Pentagon. We were instructed to get all belongings off the bus and take our rifles through the security check point to have them screened. They swept through the buses making sure nothing was on them that shouldn't be. Then they searched us and made sure our weapons were inoperable. We loaded the buses back up and headed to the mall (the area with all the monuments).

The sight was incredible! I've never seen so many people. All people, all ages, all colors huddled together. Strike that, more of packed together. Everyone was quiet; hanging on Obama’s every word. They were packed starting from the Washington Monument and up to the steps of the Capitol. Jumbo T.V.’s on the back of 18 wheelers provided people with a view of what was too far away from them to see. Some people waved at our buses as we convoyed in. We waved back. There were American flags everywhere. It was literally too much to take in, just so many people.

We then were brought to this warming tent where we finished watching the swearing in ceremony. Around 1300 we departed the tents and formed up into our formation that we would be marching in. We had anticipated stepping off at 1430. Little did we know that there was a delay and we ended up standing out in the cold for close to 3 hours. We didn't dress all that warmly because, well we were in uniform and we wanted to look sharp. It was absolutely freezing (technically below freezing) . Slowly but surely the ranks of the formation got closer and closer as we huddled together for warmth, and pretty soon we were one big group of Midshipman clinging together for warmth. Some of us started jumping up and down and others even did the electric slide to move about and stay warm.

Finally, after many false calls, we stepped off. We marched through the streets along the parade route to hear people cheers (who were crazy to stay so long out in the cold, hopefully they dressed warmer than us!) and every block our arrival was announced over a speaker system. “Now we have the United States Naval Academy, represented by 90 talented Midshipman from each company within the brigade. The Naval Academy is the Navy’s only undergraduate school and since 1845 provided the Navy and Marine Corps with outstanding officers.” Turns out later, that one of my friends from back when I was in Sicily had announced our arrival at the first block. Throughout the parade we heard cheers of “GO NAVY BEAT ARMY!” and people thanking us for our service, a very humbling experience.

Finally, we came upon the part of the parade route where our new Commander in Chief was positioned. There were so many bright lights directly ahead of us that it was like looking into the sun. I could not see where I was going. I just followed the ecliptic outline of the person ahead of me. We were told that there were snipers everywhere, which made me kind of nervous and a bit scared to even sneeze. Barack Obama was in an elevated booth with a glass partition; alongside him was the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughhead. We received the command “EYES LEFT” and executed a left turn of the head. Very similar to what the Nazis troops would do to Hitler when they marched in front of him, minus the whole fling the arm out in front thing. President Obama and Admiral Roughhead both returned a salute. I could see Obama’s teeth, his mole on his face, just everything crystal clear. He was soooo close! It was quite the build up for such a short moment. Nonetheless, it was an awesome moment!

We finished the parade route and made our way to the buses and boarded them. I fell asleep as soon as I sat down, and we did not make it back to the Academy until 1920. It was a long, but awesome day!

10 comments:

cjh said...

Dude, that is awesome. So glad you wrote it down (and Bubba's Sis shared it with us).

forgetfulone said...

What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Stacey said...

Navy son, you've got a future in writing! Well done, thank you for taking me there. So vivid I'm freezing right now, lol. And because I was too darned sad to even watch it, your glimpse into history was good to have, lol. Thank you for all you do, for the great sacrifices you give to all of us each and every day.

rachelizabeth said...

What a great post! It made me feel like I was there - minus the cold!

Thanks, Navy Son!

Katie Lady said...

Wow, that is SUPER cool! I am just in awe that he was even there, let alone SO CLOSE!!! How special.

I'M SO PROUD OF YOU NAVY NEPHEW!!!

D... said...

So close to even see his teeth? So incredibly cool. The whole day is just something to always remember. Thanks for sharing so vividly!

kris said...

this is just such an awesome memory for him! Great post too! Guess there is a really proud mama around too! ;)
kris

Angie said...

Thanks for sharing your sons story. I would have given anything to be in D.C. that day. It was an amazing site to watch on tv. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Misty Dawn said...

WOW!!! That's all I can say is - WOW. He's definitely an awesome writer!

Jim and Jami said...

loved Navy Son's perspective on the day. I know you are a very proud Mama!