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Category: Inauguration


First-hand account from D.C.

Tacoma resident Kurt Heineman is in D.C. on business and got a taste of the event. Here is his account and photos.

I awoke this morning at 4:15 am to catch the metro as early in order to get the closest to the Capitol building as I possibly could without having an inauguration ticket. Although many people, including myself, were very tired, you could feel the energy and excitement in the air.

Many of us brought cardboard or newspapers to sit and lay on while we waited for the event to take place. In this time, I met people from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Dakota, and various other states. The conversations I had with the people I met exemplified exactly what Barack Obama has and will continue to do for this great country, which is to bring together people from all racial, religious, and geographical backgrounds and motivate each citizen to be an active participant in renewing the greatness of the United States of America.

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Youngsters watch and learn in the classroom

Kindergartners and first-graders at Tacoma’s Wainwright Elementary sat quietly this morning, watching Barack Obama take the oath of office as President of the United States.

Little girls, some with corn rows in their hair, others with blond pony tails, sat side by side. There were boys with the frizzy hair that marked their heritage as African American, others with the barber-shop style short brush cuts typical of Caucasian boys. Children with black faces, white faces, Asian features watched together as Obama told America, “We are shaped by every language and culture…”

They soaked in the moment as he spoke of “tolerance and curiosity.”
They seemed the children of whom the new president spoke as he said, “We carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

Some 60 students from Darlene Wiggins’ and Ann Balerud’s first-grade classes and Jennifer Guild and Amy Maarsingh’s kindergartens watched the swearing-in and speeches amazingly fidget-free.

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That man in the street is our mayor

So who pops up in a Chicago Tribune scene-setter on the wire this morning but Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma. They even spelled his name right.

Standing in a blocks-long line awaiting entrance to the West Lawn, Bill

Baarsma, 66, the Democratic mayor of Tacoma, Wash., noted the symmetry of

the two inaugurations he has attended.

The first was Lyndon Johnson’s in 1965, thought to have drawn the largest

inaugural crowd, a record Baarsma believes was broken Tuesday.

"It wasn’t anything like this, trust me,"

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Dicks takes in ‘the most amazing view’

WASHINGTON – Rep. Norm Dicks has an uncanny ability to puts things into perspective. Tomorrow the House Appropriations Committee will mark up a more than $800 billion stimulus bill. But today he was as wowed as everyone else.

"It was the most amazing view, all you could see was people," said Dicks.

Dicks shook hands with Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, and got a good look at the kids, Mailia and Sasha.

The congressman said Obama’s speech was "solid" and spelled out the "hard realities" the

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Where’s the party tonight?

Here are some open-to-the-public inaugural events tonight. Let us know if you know of others.

&bull The Tacoma Colored Women’s Club, 2331 S. Yakima Ave., will be hosting a celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. featuring a big screen television, music and food.

&bull 2nd District Democrats will meet up at Amici Italian Eatery, 9807 224th St. E in Graham from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for a no-host dinner and drinks.

&bull Pierce County Democrats and People for Peace, Justice and Healing are organizing a party at the

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More from D.C.

A couple more dispatches from Les Blumenthal in D.C.

WASHINGTON – As with most politicians, check that – as with most people who were there – Gov. Chris Gregoire was just trying to comprehend what she had just seen when she called after the inauguration.

"I’ve never seen anything this historic in my life. I can’t think of anything that comes close," Gregoire said. "As far as you could see there was nothing but people. Oh my word."

The governor said Obama became president at a most challenging time. "But look at the hope, look at the

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Elated in Olympia

Here’s one from Joe Turner in Olympia.

This was a particularly special day for Washington state Sen. Rosa
Franklin, D-Tacoma, who is starting her 20th year in the Legislature.
She is President pro tempore of the Senate.

Franklin, 81, is black. She began her legislative career after working
many years as a nurse.

She watched the inaugural with other state senators and staffers on a
big screen TV in the majority caucus room.

“It is a day of renewing the spirit of what our country is all about –
about our country being for everyone,” she told me afterward. “Anyone
can be a leader.”

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‘A great day’ on the Hilltop

A crowd at the Oasis of Hope Center on Tacoma’s Hilltop cheered when Barack Obama finished the oath of office.

Ella Haynie, 80, raised her arms and said, "Thank you Jesus."
"This is a great day," she said.

She said she never thought she would see a black person become president in her lifetime. Obama is "a man for all people – every race," she said.

"Things are going to get better," said Haynie, of Tacoma. "The change has come."

Kecia Betts joined about 100 people to watch the inauguration on a 16-by-16 foot screen at the center. She took a day off from her job as a school teacher to watch the events for what she called the biggest day in African American history. Others also said they took time off work so they wouldn’t miss the inauguration.

Betts said Obama’s election marked the first time she felt part of the "American fabric."

When she saw Obama take his place for the inauguration, Betts cheered and yelled, "Yeah, baby!"

"This is a long time coming," said Betts, of Tacoma. "Look at how many barriers this man has broken."

At the center, part of Greater Christ Temple Church, people sat around tables, sipped coffee, and watched the events on CNN. They listened intently and broke into applause and cheering often.

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