My First Inauguration: An Experience to Remember
Scholastic Student Reporter January 20—On a clear but bitterly cold Washington morning, we journeyed on the subways to find our seats in history. We were going to witness President George W. Bush take his second oath of office, an honor that only a few Presidents have achieved.
The U.S. Capitol, which was decorated with American flags, served as a backdrop for the 55th swearing in ceremony. I watched as the President was escorted through the building to the podium where he would take the pledge. On the monitor, I could see tears on his face. I could only imagine how he must have felt. He could have been thinking how this would be his last inauguration. Or he could have been feeling overwhelmed as he saw thousands of people there to observe for only the 55th time in history that a President has been sworn into office. But very possibly he was feeling the honor of the office and the rare opportunity to experience it twice!
President Bush's speech focused on freedom and liberty for everyone. He said that for peace and freedom to reign in America, we must promote and fight for it in other countries. Freedom is not free. It comes at a big price, he said.
This was my first opportunity to witness an inauguration. I sat in the cold listening to the speech realizing that I am very fortunate to be an American. Many soldiers fought so that I might have an opportunity to be free.
At the Parade
After the inauguration, we went to the parade. It started late, but was well worth the wait. I got a great spot on the parade route to the left of the presidential viewing stand and to the left of the White House. I was overwhelmed as I was taking pictures during the parade, and there in my view was the White House, right across the street!
The parade began with organizers, Senators, and congressional leaders. I saw Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, who represents my home district.
The President's mother and father were led into the bulletproof presidential viewing stand before the motorcade rounded Pennsylvania Avenue. As the motorcade made its way onto Pennsylvania Avenue, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush walked behind the presidential limousine, waving to the crowd. Following President Bush were Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne. They were also walking and waving to the cheering fans.
More than 11,000 people marched in the parade. From high school and college bands to military bands, almost every state in the nation was represented. I saw high-school bands from Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas, just to name a few. There were many college bands, including two of the biggest: the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and the University of Texas Longhorn marching band.
One of the most popular floats carried the Crawford High-School band. President Bush owns a ranch in Crawford, Texas. It is nicknamed the Texas White House.
Another favorite float was from Wyoming. It featured a waterfall, a fly-fisherman, and a buffalo. Vice President Cheney is from Wyoming.
It was a great day for Americans, especially this one. Neither the cold, wind, or the freezing temperatures mattered. Nothing could dampen my spirits when we welcomed the President and cheered him into a new term.