After fighting intermittent chills of cold and excitement, Jacqueline Coleman gushed about being witness to history.
“You could just feel the excitement,” she said of the crowd around her during the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. “Everyone was happy and anticipating what President Obama was going to say.”
Coleman, a 26-year-old teacher from Mercer County, eagerly fought through the throngs of onlookers by herself to the part of the Capitol grounds just past its Reflection Pool. She had a ticket for that section while her friends, whom she is staying with, were relegated to the general public area somewhere among the masses further down on the National Mall.
While she couldn’t make out faces, Coleman could pick out the well known figures of past presidents on stage, including Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, the woman whom Coleman supported during last spring’s arduous Democratic primary.
Then came the incoming first lady, Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha – proof that the moment she had been waiting for was near. It was something she said she wanted to do since attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where then-nominee Barack Obama won her over.
“It was just kind of surreal,” he said. “To watch him get the nomination in Denver and to be here, it’s kind of like everything came full-circle.”
Coleman said she soaked in every word of Obama’s address. Obama, himself, subtly underscored the significance of the event when he mentioned that the generation of African Americans before him wouldn’t be served a meal with white Americans, yet his children were witnessing his inauguration.
It was a key moment that resonated with the crowd, Coleman said.
Overall, she called the speech a bold and honest assessment of the country’s place in the world and how its people must rally.
“He alluded to the fact that there were tough times ahead, and we all need to come together. I don’t think he really sugar-coated anything,” she said. “He pretty much laid it all out there.”
- Ryan Alessi