story & photos
by Barbara Stillman
I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Barack Obama inauguration. The experience was incredible. It was surreal to be standing amongst a couple of million people, all gathered for the same reason, and all sharing in the same energy and optimism for our country. Despite the freezing temperatures and large crowds, there were no complaints. There were no incidents or arrests. It was a moment in time where millions joined together in hope.
For me, the most significant part of Barack’s inauguration speech was “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.” I found these words to be inspirational for all the people in our country who have lost their jobs or experienced hard times.
There were several Hollywood “stars” and entertainers at the event. They were not given special treatment. Dustin Hoffman waited in the same line for 2 hours that I waited in. Truly, we were all treated equally as Americans, regardless of social status, color, age or gender.
As a woman in business, I have learned to be determined, and to utilize the power of networking. One week before the inauguration I decided I would attend. There were no tickets to be found, but I knew that I could change that. Utilizing a phone tree and calling on friends and business associates, I was able to secure two tickets within a day. While in DC, I continued to network. I made new friends and valuable contacts throughout my travels, which also paid immediate dividends. As a result, I was able to secure tickets to the Eastern Ball at Union Station and tickets to the Obama Staff Ball at the DC Armory. These events were elegant, and intimate in size, and provided incredible access to the Vice President and President. We were literally 40 feet away from the stage. President Obama was generous with his time, particularly at the Staff Ball. He recognizes the enormous challenges that exist and the expectations that we have for his leadership. He expressed his gratitude for the faith that we have placed in him.
The entire inauguration experience was one that will remain special in my heart. I will always remember, with great pride, that I was there the day Barack Obama was named the 44th President of the United States of America.