Accessibility links

Record Crowds Witness Historic Inauguration of 44th President


More than a million people crowded into Washington to see the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Despite the large crowds in front of the U.S. Capitol, many said they were not deterred from staking out their spot on the National Mall to witness history.

Many people began trekking to the Obama inauguration before the sun came up on Tuesday in hopes of getting a good spot to see the swearing in of the 44th president of the United States. Yet with overcrowded metros and long lines at security checkpoints, downtown Washington quickly filled up.

Faye Bess of Monroe, Louisiana, who was out among the crowd, began the day with a surprise when she looked out of her hotel window.

"My son woke me up. He said, 'Mama, get up, you have to see this.' I said, 'Oh God, it's not snowing, is it?' He said, 'Just get up, you have to see this.' And the people, there were just so many people, just so many people. I could just swell up, but I can't cry, I'm afraid it will freeze," she said.

Despite freezing temperatures in Washington, some onlookers found a way to illustrate their unique cultural identity.

American Indian Lanea Burdette wore a bright yellow outfit with matching headdress to represent her Native American reservation, the San Carlos Apaches in Arizona.

"What I'm wearing is the traditional San Carlos Apache outfit, we call it a buckskin. We use this for our Apache ceremonies back at home. It's for the young girls when we become of age. I chose to wear this because for the Apaches this is more of a formal wear for us, for big events, and it just represents who we are as San Carlos Apaches," he said.

But for many more, it was about witnessing history in the making.

"It's a great day in history," said one woman. "Not two Americas, but today we will be one America. We wouldn't miss this for anything in the world. We were determined that if we had to get in the cars and drive, we were going to be here to see a man who is judged by the content of his character, and not by the color of his skin."

Another woman said, "I felt that since it was such a big part of American history I can't miss it. I know I would be much more comfortable on my couch, but with it being in my backyard [hometown], it was just an exciting place to be."

While few were able to actually see the president taking his oath, many said just being a part of the crowd made the trip worthwhile.

XS
SM
MD
LG