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Gary Ford was one of the millions of people who packed up and traveled to Washington, D.C., for the historic Jan. 20 inauguration of President Barrack Obama.
Ford received two tickets from U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis’ office. Because the number of requests outnumbered the congressmen’s available tickets, the staff held a lottery for them. Ford was one of the winners.
With the extra ticket, Ford invited his friend, Sorin Bejenaru, to come with him. Bejenaru, an immigrant ... who lives on the Hawaiian island of Maui, met Ford at Louisville International Airport. The two men then drove from Carrollton to Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Jan. 17. Once there, they stayed in Potomac, Md., with one of Bejenaru’s relatives.
“We went to see history and we were going to have a good time,” Ford said.
The fun started Sunday, when Ford and Bejenaru rode D.C.’s subway, the Metro, into the capital and spent the day sightseeing. They returned Monday, staying close to the Mall where most of the national monuments and museums are located.
Ford discovered that the tickets he received were for an area that was fewer than 100 yards from the podium where President Obama took the oath of office Tuesday, Jan. 20, on the west steps of the Capitol.
Ford said he was extremely impressed with the demeanor of the crowd that day.
“Everybody was equal that day. Rich people and poor people were all cold together,” he said. “There was a feeling in the air, everybody hoping things would get better.”
During the day, the crowd participated in sing-alongs, singing patriotic songs and songs from the 1950s and ’60s, he said.
Out of the millions who attended, “I met people from Guatemala and Kenya, Africa, but I didn’t see a soul I knew,” Ford said.
Ford said he and his friend stood with the crowd for eight hours that day. They nourished themselves with granola bars they’d stuffed into their coat pockets.
In addition to seeing the president, Ford said he saw Aretha Franklin when she performed.
Ford, who also attended the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993, said the weather was much warmer that year. The temperature in 1993 was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit; this year, it was about 20 degrees.
Another difference was the increased security. Clinton’s inauguration “was before 9/11, so there wasn’t nearly the security then as there was during this inauguration,” Ford said.