juliayarboughweb.gifHow long will the glow of Tuesday’s history-making inauguration last?

That was one of the many questions posed to the congregation and visitors of all ethnicities who lined the pews of the East Side Baptist Church of Austin, Texas.  In an ironic twist of fate, while thousands of Americans packed the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and others watched TV screens from home, I and a handful of friends celebrated the occasion in Texas.

I spent three days smack dab in the midst of cowboy hats, Texas longhorn emblems and world-famous barbecue joints. The South. Texas, the home state of now former President George W. Bush. Go figure.

Posters of Obama lined the walls of the church. Men, women and children – all decked out in their Sunday finest gathered in the house of God to celebrate. I watched the TV monitors in awe as the first African American to lead our nation took the oath of office.

The church echoed with shouts of “yeah” and “that’s right.” A few “tell it” and “amens” floated into the air. Hands waved as everyone gave praise. My eyes teared up as I watched and realized we were all part of history in the making.

Large screen TVs strategically placed throughout the church allowed all of us, as we sat in Texas, to take part in the inaugural celebration.  With each new network TV shot of the
Obamas, and each patriotic glimpse of the American flag waving above the record-setting crowd in Washington, D.C, we truly became become one with a nation of people experiencing the same mixture of  emotions –hope and the promise of a brighter future.

It was my friend Josh, who calls Austin home, who suggested we attend this church service. Interviewed by a local TV crew and asked why he came, Josh said, “I wanted to be in the community to see people’s expressions and feel the emotion. I’ve always had hope but now I have more hope in the future and in our country.”

Little 11-year-old Jade Jeffries perhaps captured the mood of the moment best. Speaking to her congregation, on behalf of her grandfather who passed just last year, she spoke from the heart.

“Barack Obama is a teacher,’’ she said. “He has taught me to live strong and reach my dreams. Because someone who looks like me is now the president I know I can be anything I want to be.  This is a blessing we dreamed of.”

Julia Yarbough, a news anchor at NBC 6, writes periodically on her outdoor and other adventures.