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History made every minute

Megan Doyle | Monday, January 21, 2013

WASHINGTON – I remember visiting Washington for the first time as a little girl, staring in awe at the towering white monuments and walking until my feet could fall off, only to rest with my family under the idyllic cherry blossoms near the Potomac. I returned to Washington, D.C. this weekend not as a tourist but as a student journalist, reporting on the 57th presidential inauguration for The Observer with Multimedia Editor Sarah O’Connor. If you missed the ceremonies, follow my play-by-play below:

7:07 a.m. The first snooze on my alarm goes off, and we drag ourselves out of bed to get ready for the day. I’m not a morning person, but today, adrenaline and coffee are flowing to wake me up.

8:05 a.m. Sarah and I leave our hotel at L’Enfant Plaza and split up when we get to the National Mall. My ticket is in the red section, hers in the orange.

8:37 a.m. As I’m snaking through the impossible security lines, I see a little girl, tied to her mom with a leash, who is jumping up and down. She’s saying, “I’m going to see Obama!”

9:49 a.m. After bonding hardcore with all the other people in my security line (seriously, they’ll all be invited to my wedding someday), I’m finally through the metal detectors and security line.

10:15 a.m. I’ve made it to my seat in Section 16 of the red ticketed area, with a good view of one big screen and a distant view of the Capitol stairs. Just behind me, a protestor has climbed a tree and is screaming anti-Obama messages out of reach of inauguration security.

10:38 a.m. The entire United States Congress, first the House of Representatives and then the Senate, has been seated. They must buy those black full-length wool coats in bulk and pass them out in the Capitol Building.

10:45 a.m. The military band plays “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” I remember all the words.

10:55 a.m. Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appear on the screen as they walk through the Capitol and onto the steps. “It’ll be you next time, girl,” the woman behind me yells for Hillary. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn are also present.

11:00 a.m. Cell service is actually worse than at a Notre Dame football Saturday.

11:12 a.m. My toes are really, really cold. I teach the woman next to me, who is from Florida, how to use the hand warmers she has bought from a street vendor.

11:17 a.m. First Lady Michelle Obama steps out in front of the Capitol. She’s grinning from ear to ear, and her coat is designed by Thom Browne, a 1988 Notre Dame graduate.

11:19 a.m. Vice President Joe Biden, along with other Congressional leaders, join the stage in front of the Capitol. The military band plays “Hail Columbia.”

11:23 a.m. Obama is announced and steps onto the stage to huge cheers from the crowd, which is chanting “Obama! Obama!” For someone as cold as I am in the crowd, “Hail to the Chief” suddenly becomes a great tune for a little warm-up dance.

11:24 a.m. I have lost all the feeling in my toes.

11:25 a.m. Sen. Charles Schumer, the master of ceremonies, begins the 57thpresidential inauguration ceremonies. He introduces the theme of this year’s ceremonies, which is “Faith in America’s Future.” When he invites the crowd to sit down, everyone in the standing sections laughs.

11:31 a.m. Historic civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams delivers the invocation. “As we sing the words of belief, ‘This is My Country,’ let us act upon the meaning that everyone is included,” she said. “May the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of every woman, man, boy and girl be honored. May all your people, especially the least of these, flourish in our blessed nation.”

11:38 a.m. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir performs “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I’m jealous of their coats, which seem incredibly warm, and their musical talent.

11:43 a.m. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander from Tennessee praises the American transition of peaceful transition of power, saying “There is no mob, no coup, no insurrection. This is a moment when millions stop and watch.”

11:45 a.m. Biden swears his oath of office, administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. By constitutional requirement, the vice president and president actually swore this oath on Sunday (Jan. 20) – but because that date fell on a Sunday this year, the public ceremonies transpired the next day.

11:46 a.m. Singer James Taylor sings “America the Beautiful.”

11:50 a.m. Obama swears his oath of office, administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The crowd erupts in cheers, and two security officers near my section fist bump.

11:52 a.m. Obama begins his inaugural address. “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” he said.

12:13 p.m. Singer Kelly Clarkson sings “My Country, Tis of Thee.” When she finishes, Schumer says, “Wow.”

12:14 p.m. Inaugural poet Richard Blanco read his poem composed for the occasion, titled “One Today.”

12:23 p.m. Rev. Luis Leon delivers the benediction: “We pray for your blessing because without it, we will only see what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor.”

12:25 p.m. Schumer concludes the inaugural ceremonies. Singer Beyonc̩ performs the National Anthem, belting the last lines to cheers and flag waving from the crowd. After she hits the last note, the ceremonies are over РPresident Barack Obama leaves the Capitol steps, ready to officially begin his second term in office.