WASHINGTON, D.C. — Montesano attorney Vini Samuel says the roar, then the stillness of the crowd — numbering up to 1 million people by one estimate — is what topped her experience at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday.
“It was really loud and it would just go in waves,” Samuel said.
For Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp, the experience at the inauguration took on special significance because she was able to bring her 8-year-old son Daniel with her. Daniel, a second grader at St. Mary’s School in Aberdeen, “was wide awake at 6 a.m. — 3 a.m. our time — and ready to go see the president.”
Sharp said she attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, “but there’s nothing like witnessing another historical event through the eyes of a little boy.”
Samuel found out about a week ago that she had secured tickets to the inaugural celebration courtesy of the Office of Congressman Derek Kilmer. Samuel said she was able to quickly secure hotel accommodations and a flight out and was able to bring good friend and fellow attorney Katie Svoboda to the celebration.
Besides the inauguration, they also wandered to various Smithsonian exhibits and visited the U.S. Supreme Court building, a perfect fit for the attorneys.
Stephen Carter, a spokesman for Kilmer, said he wasn’t able to confirm if anyone else from the Harbor was in attendance at the inauguration.
Samuel said she didn’t see anyone else she recognized.
Sharp said that other Quinault officials in attendance included Vice President Andrew Mail and Councilman James DeLaCruz.
“We were located on the lawn right in front of the Capitol Building and enjoyed a crisp, sunny, and exciting morning with nearly a million other spectators,” Sharp said.
On Tuesday, Sharp said they have a full day of meetings, including getting to know Kilmer and a planning session with the National Congress of American Indians. Later, they plan to visit the National Archives “so Daniel can see the original U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence, followed by ice skating on the grounds of the National Art Museum, located across the street from the National Archives.”
Samuel said she has regretted not attending Obama’s first inauguration four years ago, and so when the opportunity came up this time, she took it. Samuel, a former chairwoman of the Grays Harbor Democrats, was also a delegate for Obama to the Democratic National Convention back in 2008.
“I think going to an inauguration is just one of those things I’ve got to do,” she said. “I do have to say that it’s been a long, long day. And it was way colder today than it was yesterday.”
She said she and Svoboda tried to take a lot of pictures, “but that meant taking off our gloves and every time we did that, I swear, our fingers felt like they were going to fall off.”
Samuel said her ticket enabled her to get near the back of the official inauguration, but she was able to look behind her to see hundreds of thousands of people crowding the grassy National Mall between the Capitol Dome and the Washington Monument. The ABC telecast of the inauguration said that the National Mall was so full that the U.S. Parks Service had to close it.
While Samuel said she was considering attending one of the president’s inaugural balls, they decided to head back to the hotel room to get warm.
“Ask me in 24 hours what I really think of it all because I’m still absorbing it,” she said. “… I will say that his speech was very, very good and I think he pushed harder to get things done than he did four years ago.”