Obama Takes Office: Local Attendees 'Enthralled'
Local residents who attended the Inauguration of President Obama Tuesday in Washington, D.C., were on top of the world.
"It is absolute elation," said Timothy Smith, of Southern Pines, who attended with his wife, Shannon, and other local campaign volunteers. "It is just incredible."
Smith and his group were celebrating at a pub in D.C. after the ceremony.
"It is so overwhelming," he said. "It is unbelievable, oceans of people. It is so wonderful. All over the city, in store windows and on vehicles, all you see are pictures and logos of Obama. Everyone is so enthralled with it. It is just amazing and so inspiring. The energy in this city is unbelievable."
Smith said Obama's inaugural speech "was brilliant."
"To hear the leader of the free world say we will 'extend the hand of friendship if you will unclench your fist,'" he said. "This is a new philosophy. It is breathtaking. It was so inspiring. It truly is a new day.
Karol Collins, of Pinehurst, who also worked as a volunteer for the Obama campaign in Moore County, said "it was refreshing" to be a part of such a historic occasion."
"This is a new beginning, a new era," she said.
Collins said she and her daughter and her husband were on the Mall by the reflecting pool and could actually see the ceremony, though they had to rely on Jumbotrons at times to see and hear.
"He said a lot of what he said during the campaign," she said. "We have these monstrous issues facing the nation -- the economic crisis and two wars. This is a journey we all have to take together. We have to address these problems as a nation. He is the right person to lead in times like these.
"He is an exceptional communicator. He communicates in a personal way. We are in this together. These are remarkable times. I am so thrilled to be a part of it."
Collins attended the concert Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial and then the N.C. Society of Washington Inaugural Ball Monday night.
Meri Hyoky, who worked for the Obama presidential campaign, said that although she was too far away to get a good view or to see any of the screens projecting Obama's speech, she is still glad she went.
"Being involved in the campaign process was so inspiring," she said. "It made me want to be here at the Inauguration and feel the atmosphere of it all."
Hyoky, who traveled with others who had worked on the Obama campaign, did get to attend the free concert held Sunday.
"The concert was just amazing," she said. The feeling of unity was really great."
Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and Stevie Wonder were among the performers at the "We Are One" concert, which also featured speeches by celebrities and political figures.
Doug Harrison, who attended the Inauguration through the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, said the ceremony was "really emotional and historic."
"To be there and see how excited everyone was, made us feel like real patriots," Harrison said.
He was to attend the black-tie gala Tuesday night at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where Obama made an appearance.
Harrison and the other attendees of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council have heard from Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and other leaders who came to Maryland University to be a part of the program.
Collins said she is glad she decided to go, despite some misgivings at first.
"Going into this, I had to question whether I was sane to try it," she said. "I am so glad that I did. People came, millions of people, with such a sense of peacefulness. We were packed into the Mall like sardines. Someone near us fainted. One of the emergency workers who said he has been doing this for 25 years said this was the nicest crowd of people he has ever seen. I found it so amazing. It all has to do with Obama. He is that type of person, so calm, so collected, here's what we have to do.
"I feel so much better leaving here. With all of the negative things that have been going on for the last few years, this was very refreshing. I feel very good about the future of our country now with Obama as our president."
Contact David Sinclair at 693-2462 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Newsroom intern Laura Eddy contributed to this report.
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