Miami — When Americans elected Barack Obama the nation’s first African-American president on Nov. 4 four years ago, it was on Myra Anders’ birthday.
“I was so happy and excited,” said Anders, a resident of Fairway Estates in South Miami-Dade County.
“It made my birthday extra special.”
Unable to attend the historic inauguration in January 2009, Anders sent Obama an email congratulating him. She also pledged that if he won another term in office, she would be there for the swearing-in ceremony.
“When he got reelected, I said, ‘Wow, I’m going to make it happen,’” she said.
On Saturday, Anders and her son Aaron, 18, will fly out of Fort Lauderdale for Washington.
“I just want to be in the atmosphere, witnessing the day,” said Anders, a math teacher at Homestead High School.
She will not be alone. Hundreds of other South Floridians will make the journey. They will join an expected one million other
Americans who will observe and take part in numerous inaugural festivities which will include the presidential swearing-in ceremony, the inaugural address and parade on Monday.
“We had the trip to Washington planned even before the election,” said Edith Bush, a retired West Palm Beach educator who organized the bus excursion that will take 55 South Floridians to Washington. “We had reserved the bus and everything.”
Bush, 88, is executive director of the Martin Luther King Coordinating Committee of West Palm Beach, a nonprofit group that sponsors week-long birth anniversary celebration of the civil rights hero.
“We are calling ourselves the MLK freedom riders,” Bush said of the tour bus participants. “We want to empower our children and show them that we can go from the outhouse to the White House.”
The theme of the 2013 inauguration, “Faith in America’s Future,” is demonstrated by the president’s re-election, many say. The inauguration theme also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome in 1863.
“The idea that we got to a place in America where we can reelect someone of African-American descent really speaks to how far we have come as a country, an affirmation that the country overall is moving in a good direction,” said state Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Richmond Heights Democrat.
Bullard, a social studies teacher at Coral Reef High in South Dade, recently won state senate seat 39, previously held by his mother, Larcenia Bullard, after serving two terms in the state House.
“I am excited to see where the country will be 10, 20 years from now,” said Bullard, who will be in Washington for the inauguration ceremonies. “The first female president, the first Asian or Latino or Latina president – these are all possibilities now.”
Frank Glover, a Miami-Dade County public school teacher, missed Obama’s first inauguration but said he believes the second one is even more important.
“It shows that America is showing a little bit more tolerance than in the past. There were times that this would have been unheard of,” said Glover, a North Miami Beach resident who will be among 47 people going by bus through a tour organized by Joseph Bell, owner of Bus Network Travel and Tours in Miami. The group will spend three nights in a Washington-area hotel.
“It would have been a disaster if Obama had not won,” said Bradford Brown, who, with his wife, Mable, will fly to Washington for a week of inauguration activities and seminars.
The change and initiatives that came about with the president’s election in 2008 had to be defended, Brown said. “The fact that we did defend it instead of turning back means that those initiatives can continue and be completed,” said Brown, who is first vice president of the NAACP’s Miami-Dade Branch.
The Browns, who attended Obama’s first inauguration, secured coveted tickets to the second inauguration speech, which means that they will be somewhere among the crowds in front of the podium as the president delivers his speech.
So did Freddie Young, retired principal of Richmond Elementary School in South Dade, who is flying to Washington on Saturday.
“It is exciting; it is history,” said Young, who served as delegate to the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C. She also attended Obama’s first inauguration. “This time it is a loyal commitment to follow through with the president to the end,” Young said. “I was one of the people who were on his bandwagon from the first day he announced.”
So many people worked hard to see the president re-elected, said Bush of West Palm Beach.
“This is the dream,” she said. “You can’t go anywhere from here but heaven.”