At exactly 12:05 p.m. on Jan. 20, the 44th president of the United States was sworn into office. All the while, I was shivering – not just because of the frigid air that swept across our nation’s capital, but more so because I was terrified, standing in the National Mall with more people than I have ever seen in my life.
While I admit that I was not the first to board the “Yes We Can” train, if I had to limit myself to a few words, the inauguration experience in itself was an overwhelming, once-in-a-lifetime event.
A sense of pride was written all over everyone’s faces, and some even seemed to shout the word “hope” without even speaking (Although I will say many of them had it written across their scarves and hats). Even small children walked hand-in-hand with their parents holding homemade signs and chanting “OBAMA!” as they marched down 18th Street.
Then President Barack Obama addressed the nation and spoke of our ancestors who founded this country.
“They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions,” he said.
This was the moment where everything came together for me, and I was no longer scared of saying the same thing as everyone else.
Hope and change were the two main ideas that made my time in D.C. more memorable than I could ever imagine. Not just the hope for our nation, or the change that our new president will undoubtedly bring to all of us, but the fact we are so often scared of change.
Change comes from the fact that regardless of anyone’s views – pro-Obama, anti-Obama, not feeling either way for Obama – they are part of what our president calls a “patchwork heritage” and that the “ground has shifted underneath them.”
“Obama is a leader of change, but for change to actually happen, the people need to change,” said Gloria Bailey-Gray, 53, as she walked toward the Capitol with a group of friends.
The hope that I felt walking through the crowded streets en route to the Capitol was overwhelming—the emotion was so thick it could almost make one short of breath. My hope, however, is not the same as everyone else’s.
Although I hope for a positive change for the nation, I also hope for the people of our nation to move toward individual change, but collectively.
Jenna Farmer is a graduate student of journalism at the University of Miami.
Photo: Jenna Farmer