Students travel to D.C. to witness inauguration
Aaron Steiner | Thursday, January 22, 2009
WASHINGTON – When they got to Washington just over a week ago, the students in Notre Dame’s Washington Program knew they were arriving at an opportune time.
“It’s definitely an exciting time to be here,” sophomore Patrick McDonnell said, echoing the thoughts of most of his classmates in the program.
The inauguration and the hope many have for the nation’s 44th president has taken Washington by storm, they said.
“Obama is everywhere you look. I went to the diner and Obama was on the front of the menu. Everywhere – you can’t go anywhere and there’s not Obama,” junior Monika Perry said.
The atmosphere has even shifted in the past days, Perry said.
“When we got here it was fine, but now it’s just out of control,” Perry said. “You can tell everyday that you’re on [the Metro], there’s more people, they don’t know where they’re going.”
The students in the program went to the “We Are One” concert on Sunday afternoon, and most will attend the inauguration ceremony Tuesday.
Through their jobs in the city they’ve taken in the pulse of Washington residents.
“I think a lot of the people in my office are pretty excited just because of the exposure its getting,” Steve Meehan, a junior, said.
“Just talking to people and hearing what they have to say, and from what we know, this level of excitement has not been this high for a long time,” Patrick Brown, a sophomore said.
By the same token, the influx of millions of visitors does test the patience of some residents.
“A lot of people seem pretty excited, but then you can tell the D.C. lifers – they’re just annoyed at the people invading their city,” Meehan said.
Regardless, everyone recognizes that Washington is the center of the action, bound to attract people by the millions, Brown said.
“This is the place to be right now, all the celebrities, all the notable dignitaries they all want to be here right now,” Brown said.
Brown and McDonnell said the inauguration did play a role in their decision to come to Washington this semester.
“I thought, ‘Spring ’09 is going to be the inauguration, it’s going to be a new administration, whoever wins,’ and at that point we didn’t even know who the nominees were, but I knew it was going to be an exciting time no matter who won,” Brown said.
“I know I wanted to do this program at some point and … it’s an exciting time,” he said.
Perry said that while she didn’t even realize the inauguration would take place while she was in Washington, she now fully recognizes how historic the experience is.
“You know that your kids are going to ask you when they come back from 7th grade history or something,” she said.
It’s difficult not to get swept up in the chaos, Meehan said, and forget the importance of some events.
“There’s just so much going on at once that you’re not going to lose the historical sense,” he said. “I think as time goes by, even this semester, we’ll look back and realize how important this was.”
Brown said he expects that even after the inauguration wraps up Washington will still be an exciting place to be.
“[The excitement’s] not going to go away because of the momentum he has, and what they’re trying to do is inspiring a lot of action and counter-action from both sides. There’s not a better time to be in D.C. that I can think of than during a new administration, a new leadership,” Brown said.