First post in 3 years. But here’s how I feel today. September 11, 2012Posted by Robert in Uncategorized.
add a comment
I can never sleep on the night between 9/10 and 9/11.
I can’t help but think where I was and when I heard the news. I can’t help but think about how much changed that day. I can’t help but think about walking from Fundamental Musicianship to Expository Writing, which was the exact time I heard the first tower was hit.
The rest of the day was a blur. It seems like the rest of the next 11 years has still been a blur.
What I know is that I couldn’t be prouder of our men and women in uniform right now. I couldn’t be prouder of our Nation. We’ve come so far from that day, with so much more to go. But I honestly believe that my children will know a peaceful world. I have to believe that. Today our nation mourns as it should. But It should also continue to heal, as it is want to do when these events occur.
We are, if nothing else, a nation of believers. Be it in God, or Humanity. Be it in thy neighbor or thy self. Be it in industry or charity, hopefully both. We choose to believe that our better angels will prevail.
Today, I urge you to stop and listen to the names of the lost. But don’t just focus on those lost. Think of the names of those still here. If you are reading this, you are amongst them. No matter how you choose to act, do so. Act upon the advice of your better angels.
Do something today to unite, not divide. Reach out to a loved one with whom you’ve had a falling out. Make amends for a wrong you feel you’ve committed. Or, forgive a wrong you feel has been done to you.
On 9/12, you’ll be a better human for it.
I’ll get off my soap box now.
God Bless America. God save her soldiers both domestic and abroad.
The Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama – A Political Odyssey January 21, 2009Posted by Robert in inauguration, Music, Not Political, Politics, Travel.
Tags: Barack, Barack Obama, inauguration, Joe Biden, Maryland, Metro DC, Michelle Obama, National Mall, Obama, Rick Warren, US Capital, Washington DC
1 comment so far
We woke well before dawn, determined to be on one of the first metro trains out of Silver Spring station. Our plan was to get to the National Mall before 5am so that we could have great placement for the swearing in ceremony of our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. We were on a mission, one we were determined to complete no matter what stood in our way. And between the trains, people, gates, police, automobiles and the bitter cold, it was clear very early in the day that this wasn’t going to be a walk in a national park.
The snags started almost as soon as our train pulled out of the station. Our operator came over the PA system and pleaded with us to make sure that we didn’t block any of the doors on the DC Metro as the doors do not operate like elevator doors. That is, they do not re-open completely if something gets in their way while closing. They just open back up a tiny bit and then close again. If someone repeatedly stops them from closing, the train has to be completely shut down and all passengers have to be off loaded and get on the next train. Our operator informed us that the train directly before ours had to be off loaded because there were to many people holding the doors. After a few minutes stopped on the tracks, he came back on and said that another train in front of us had to be off loaded as well, and we were going to be receiving all the passengers from both these trains.
You can probably guess what happened next. When we arrived at our next stop, not one person got off. Instead about 3 times as many people as were already on the train attempted to board. We were quickly filled to capacity but more still attempted to enter and proceeded to, you guessed it, block the doors. This was the first time I realized that these strangers around us might actually be capable of getting a bit violent. When the people who were blocking the doors refused to get off and wait till the next train, a few people shouted at them angrily. One man said “If this train get shut down, i’m gonna knock you the (expletive deleted) out!”
Gladly, the doors did eventually close and the train began moving. We arrived in DC a few minutes later, greeted by the most crowded station i’ve ever seen at 5 in the morning. We made it through the throngs of people and up to the surface, greeted by the beautiful site of the Capital Building.
It never even seemed like we made a conscious decisions as to which side of the capital to walk. We just went to the right. I now realize that the day could have turned out completely differently if we had chosen the other path. In choosing the north side of The Mall as our entrance, we were told by several different police officers that they wouldn’t be opening the gates into the mall until 7am. We fount a large crowd of people waiting to walk through the tunnel onto the National Mall at 3rd and Indiana.
So there we waited, convinced that we were in the perfect spot to get on the mall in a good spot. Boy were we mistaken. After 7am rolled around and nothing happened, people started getting antsy. We should have been suspicious when we couldn’t get onto The Mall as soon as we arrived. Everything we read from the official inauguration webpages said that the mall was open at 4am.
We stayed at that entrance until about 7:45, when we were told that they were going to begin letting people in 50 at a time. By then there had to have been a crowd of at least 10,000 people and that might be a gross under-estimate. After doing the math and getting almost trampled by people trying to leave the giant group of people, we decided to adjust our strategy and make our way to the south side of the National Mall.
It was a long walk around The Capital made longer by the fact that so many streets were closed to pedestrian traffic. Then began the pattern of being told by the police that the entrance was only a few blocks away. First it was 4th and Independence, then 7th, then 10th, then 12th. When we got to 14th and Independence things got very tight. It’s a very unnerving feeling to be on a public street that would under normal circumstances be completely open and airy and have that street become so crowded with humanity that you can only move by shuffling your feet. Couple that with the collective desire of the entire crowd being only to get to a place where they can truly feel like they would bear witness to this historic event. People were getting frustrated because the lack of information coming from those in uniform was surprising. They began hoping over the barriers to the National Mall. Some guards tried to stop them, but when there are thousands of people trying to get somewhere, there’s little you can do without coming off as overbearing. It was clear that Washington DC wanted to present an atmosphere of tight security that didn’t cross-over into something resembling marital law.
The streets became so engorged with humanity that for a second I wondered if all this trouble was worth it if we were never even going to make it into The Mall. That’s when the crowds finally opened up and we were for the first time all day, able to see people actually being able to enter The Mall freely. People were literally running out of the crowded streets toward the Washington Monument. It was a moving and surreal sight.
We entered the mall over 5 hours after we had set foot in DC and immediately walked to the base of the Washington Monument. We hung around there for a bit taking photos and marveling at the sheer number of people gathered. It became clear that we weren’t going to get a great view of any of the large screens that had been set up, so we decided to move a little further towards the front of the World War 2 Memorial. There we stayed for the length of the inauguration ceremony.
Many moments of the swearing in were particularly moving or memorable for me.
Any time that Barack, Michelle or either of their girls were shown on screen, the crowd would go wild.
When President Bush was mentioned or shown on the screens, the crowd would break into choruses of “Nah Nah Nah Nah. Nah Nah Nah Nah. Hey Hey Hey. Goodbye!” or “Hit The Road Jack.” Perhaps a tad juvenile yes, but still an incredible thing to witness.
Rick Warren’s invocation was heartfelt and moving in my opinion. I was very curious to how the crowd would receive him as the decision to have him deliver the blessing was not met with overwhelming approval especially from the homosexual community. But the crowd seemed cordial if not genuinely appreciative of his blessing.
But the main event did not disappoint. President Obama’s oath of office was short, sweet and very moving. Even if the secretary choose not to read the oath but recite if from memory. The president paused several times because the secretary was incorrectly reciting the oath for him to repeat. But it felt like a touch of imperfect humanity, something that has permeated throughout this campaign, thankfully. It’s nice to know that for a town that likes to take itself so seriously, events can still show their beautiful imperfections.
Obama’s speech came in at about 18 minutes. It was very well received with the crowd, especially the parts about not sacrificing civil liberties for temporary safety or our standing as a world leader for I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was all in there and it was nice to hear the words coming out the mouth of the president for once and not just those whom some would label as defeatist or apologist. It really seemed like our leader’s ideals were in line with our own. At least it did for myself and those around me in The National Mall today.
Inauguration – We Made It January 20, 2009Posted by Robert in Election 08, Politics, Travel.
Tags: inauguration, Obama, Washington DC
add a comment
Well, at long last we made it. It took us about 5 hours to actually make it to the mall, but it was worth it. Just got interviewed by The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.
We’re currently standing just in front of the WWII memorial. This crowd is electric.
Inuguration Day – Waiting To Get Into The National Mall January 20, 2009Posted by Robert in Election 08, Politics, Travel.
Tags: inauguration, National Mall, Obama, Washington DC
1 comment so far
It’s 5:35, and we’re on the courner of 3rd and Indiana. There are thousands of people waiting to get into the mall and no one seems to know when they’ll let us in.
Update 7:05 – still not letting us in.
Inauguration Day – Before Dawn On The DC Metro January 20, 2009Posted by Robert in Travel.
Tags: dc metro, inauguration, Obama, Washington DC
1 comment so far
This train is packed to capacity before dawn. 2 trains in front of us had to be off-loaded because people were blocking the doors.
Inaguration Week – Ben’s Chili Bowl – The Ultimate DC Expirience January 20, 2009Posted by Robert in inauguration, Not Political, Travel.
Tags: Barack, Ben's Chili Bowl, Chili, Diners, Great Food, inauguration, Obama, U Street, Washinton DC
1 comment so far
Well, after yesterday’s concert. We met up with friends in Silver Springs, MD and had a nice quiet evening. After a nice long sleep-in, the discussion of what to do with our day. Smithsonian? Holocaust Museum? Monuments and Memorials?
With the promise of spectacularly bad-for-you food and an adventure, we decided to travel to DC’s hip and happening U-Street for a bowl of the good stuff at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Barack and his family apparently get free food here for life (also, Bill Cosby). The walls around U Street were covered with some great street art.
We arrived at Ben’s at about 3pm and were greeted by a line snaking out the front door and around the side of the building down an alley. We asked a guy waiting in line right outside the front door how long he was waiting, and were told “about an hour and a half.” A good follow up question should have been “Oh, and how long was the line when you started.” But I didn’t think to ask that.
The guy right behind us in line managed to score actual tickets to the swearing in ceremony. He traveled from Las Vegas by himself to attend.
While waiting in line, we were constantly being approached by various people selling memorabilia and collectibles emblazoned with the president-elect’s face. Some of the more unique offerings included an Obama figurine that was also an air freshener and a cd of some of Obama’s speeches over original house music. Haunting indeed. I couldn’t resist purchasing that one. I’ll post some of the better tracks later. There were also plenty of police officers around. Like, 10 guarding the outside of 1 Chili joint, so if you had any concern that they didn’t have enough security in DC, I think they have things covered.
We’re so close to the front of the line we can taste it.
We finally made it into Ben’s after about 2 and a half hours outside. My feet were frozen and by then it was dark out, but the atmosphere and aromas that permeated that place were well worth the wait. The juke box was blasting old soul music and the entire staff was friendly and singing along to everything. The guy at the door was doing a good job of keeping the line moving, and the people behind the counter kept things going smoothly. I ordered on large chili with cheddar to eat in, and 2 to go. Those are coming back to Jersey for reverse engineering.
Even after all that waiting and my feet being so cold that I put my gloves on over my socks, it was so worth it. We could have done anything today. We probably could have hit plenty of sites in the 4 plus hours we spent waiting for and eating chili. But somehow, it just fit the day.
We’ve arrived! January 18, 2009Posted by Robert in Election 08, Politics, Travel.
Tags: dc, inauguration, Obama, washington
1 comment so far
Well, we made it to DC. After a wonderful day in Baltimore we woke up this morning and headed to silver springs to take the metro to dc.
The national mall is packed full of people anticipating the concert today. All in all everyone is in great spirits. There are a couple of people who keep getting mad that people are walking so close to their blankets on the ground, but they back off when you remind them that this is public space and they are not mayor.
Security is tight but not oppressive. They searched all bags and made you open your coats. Their are armed plain clothes officers around but nothing that I wouldn’t consider overkill.