I’ll be covering court for The Floyd Press on Tuesday so I will miss a good part of the historical inauguration festivities in Washington. It will be the first time in a quarter century that Amy and I have not been in Washington for the fun and games.
And although the inauguration of Barack Obama is a historical event that far surpasses tne inaugurals of the past 24 years, I will be glad to be here and not there because for all the history and pomp and circumstance that comes with living in the nation’s capital there is also a disruptive factor that affects just about everyone who lives there.
On Tuesday, all the bridges leading from Northern Virginia into the District of Columbia will be closed. Most businesses and offices in the District give their employees the day off. They might as well. Most couldn’t get to work anyway. Traffic — always a problem in the area — will come to even more of a standstill. Subway stations will be clogged with the millions who came to town for the history of Obama’s ascension to the Presidency. Cabs? Don’t even try to get one. A table at your favorite restaurant? Forget it.
At most inaugurals over the past quarter century, I worked. During our 23 years in Washington, I photographed inaugurations from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. Once, however, Amy and I experienced an inaugural on the other side of the rope line. In 1989, during a sabbatical from journalism, I ran the political programs division of the National Association of Realtors and — as benefits someone whose political action committee handed over thousands of dollars to campaigns — had a choice seat for inaugural of George H.W. Bush. Amy and I used a limo to get around town that day, dining at The Palm before heading to the inaugural ball at Union Station. We danced part of the night away, shook hands with George and Barbara Bush (left) and hobnobbed with elected officials whose friendship came with the size of the checks I approved for their campaigns.
When it came time to leave, traffic into and out of Union Station was so clogged we told the limo driver to go home and hopped the subway for the trip back to Arlington. Tired men and women in tuxedos and evening gowns filled the train normally packed with commuters.
The trinkets from that evening have a spot in our china cabinet and the tux and evening gown hang in a closet. Attending an inaugural was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And once was enough.