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Between the Lines: 'Post' writers reflect on trip to inauguration

Apple pie and baseball are just a couple things that people call “uniquely American.”

Though apple pie is a mainstay in my diet and I put my social life on hold during baseball season, I would say there is an oft-forgotten staple of American culture that is way more deserving of recognition –– the presidential inauguration.

In a modern society that views its government and its culture with a skeptical eye, I challenge any American cynic to make the trek to Washington, D.C., and see  proof that the so-called “American spirit” is alive and well.

This weekend, I got to know government employees from Virginia and schoolchildren from California — people with different backgrounds who wanted to see a peaceful transition of government according to pillars of freedom and diversity.

As long as it continues to come together as it has since the Washington administration, I see little reason to think the U.S. should hang its head in shame.  

Yes, I know we can be better. And if we live the next four years with Monday’s tenacity and dedication, I know we will.  

Sam Howard is a stringer for The Post. Is the inauguration underappreciated? Email Sam at


Barack Obama being sworn in to the presidency Monday morning was my second inauguration visit, so in the eyes of the group I came with, I was the “expert” of Washington, D.C. I am indeed the only D.C. native of the group, but with the city nearly doubling in population, the task was particularly daunting.

Though both inaugurations had the same patriotic ambiance, my first experience completely contrasts that of Obama’s second inauguration; I was a journalist this time. I listened to the words of our inaugurated president, and the lyrics of Beyoncé singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but my main focus was the audience, the people who traveled thousands of miles to witness history.

The inauguration is an amazing event, but the stories of the onlookers are nothing short of incredible. I had the pleasure of speaking to two women, Dr. Jean Creek and Addie Green, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s in Mississippi and two men who traveled all the way from California.

The hopefulness and elation of thousands of people made every daunting task worthwhile.

Xander Zellner is a staff writer for The Post. Have you ever been to an inauguration? Email Xander at


“We’re moving forward,” Obama emphasized at the beginning of his second term — as had happened so many times during the election campaign — but this time, he was referring to the people in his country.

It has been a long time since Obama promised equality for all homosexual people, a chance for all immigrants and better Social Security for everybody, but yesterday he promised to finally tackle those problems.

The president knows that while he was steering the U.S. through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American citizens fell short — it almost cost him his presidency.

But instead of removing him from office, hundreds of thousands of Americans responded to his renewed proposals with chants and applause.

Hopeful faces appeared in the crowds and shouts of “amen” were heard everywhere. The inauguration brought the “Yes We Can” spring of 2008 back — let’s hope it doesn’t last only a day.

Alex Muehlbach is a staff writer for The Post. Do you think Obama will keep his promises? Email Alex at


I was mere feet from dozens of loudspeakers shouting President Obama’s inaugural address to a crowd of hundreds of thousands Monday, but I could not hear his voice.

While it’s true his voice echoed around me and through the crowd that attentively watched him in person — as a dot in the distance or on a number of behemoth screens — I paid little attention.

For me, the masses were more interesting than the vision of a man I’ve followed closely for several years. The response his words elicited from the crowd fascinated me.

As I tried to snap photographs of a fluid mass that bobbed and swayed from the steps of the Capitol to the Washington Monument, I developed an appreciation for my country — with one image catching my eye.

Zooming in on the face of a young girl in her dad’s arms, I saw a pair of eyes full of hope and joy because of the work of one suit barely within sight.

Multiply those emotions by several hundred thousand and you will have a small idea of what the scene was: a celebration of the positive, beautiful side of being an American.

Will Drabold is a staff writer for The Post. Send him your stories of the emotional side of politics at


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