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Crowds at the Capitol on Inauguration Day 2013. Photo by Garima Singh

Crowds at the Capitol on Inauguration Day 2013. Photo by Garima Singh

My friend and I were among the 800,000 people who attended President Obama’s inauguration last Monday. After standing in various lines and making our way through the security and the crowds, we finally made it to our area by the lawn facing the Capitol. Within an hour, the place was packed. We could see masses of people all the way to the Washington Monument. Many had camped overnight. Some were up since 4:00 a.m. or before. Folks had flown in from California, Florida and all over. Others drove hours to get there. This was one passionate crowd who probably knew exactly why they were there and what they stood for.

I was amused by the excitement around me and respected the concern my fellow beings felt for this country. They stood and listened intently even though the temperature suddenly dropped to freezing a little before the President’s address. He touched upon a range of subjects (although I differ on a few) from the economy to national security and the need for collective effort, and I particularly liked his emphasis on building a path toward sustainable energy sourcesĀ and preserving the planet. Those words had a special meaning that day, and it wasn’t until later that I discovered why.

MLK

At the Lincoln Memorial. Photo by Garima Singh.

After the inauguration ceremony, we decided to head down to the Lincoln Memorial and also relive Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream,” speech by stopping by the spot he delivered it. It was the walk after the inauguration that was unpleasant- not because of the distance or the crowds, but the place was littered from the Capitol to the Monument! Newspapers, dirty plates, paper cups, plastic bags and the list goes on.

President Obama talked about maintaining our environment and preserving our planet, yet how it is that we couldn’t hold that message in our hearts for even a few hours after his speech? Did we all come so far just to attend a show and entertain ourselves? Perhaps not, but it does make one think how dedicated and sincere “we the people” really are.

It takes a leader to inspire us and take a nation forward, but it’s the small contribution that we the people, the masses, the millions make that will truly determine the fate of a nation.

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