Sooners proclaim event as 'amazing'
BY CURTIS KILLMAN AND OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
1/21/09 at 2:46 AM
The temperatures may have been freezing, but every heart was warm for those attending the inaugural ceremonies for the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday.
The Tulsa World interviewed by telephone several Oklahomans who traveled to Washington, D.C., to see Barack Obama sworn in to the nation's highest office.
On the day of the inauguration, Chas Craig, 22, of Tulsa said he walked over to the National Mall about 3 a.m. so that he could find a good location to see the ceremony.
"It was freezing, but I just wanted to be over there and get a good spot,'' Craig said. "There were already some people there when I got there and I eventually fell asleep along a fence. When I woke up, it was an unreal scene. The whole place was full of people. It was an amazing thing to see.''
Craig, a student at Oklahoma State University, said that he will remember many moments of the inauguration, including the concerts, speakers and Obama's speech.
"What I remember most is getting to meet (Gen.) Colin Powell and the inauguration speech,'' Craig said. "When (Obama) was talking about foreign policy and the leaders of hostile nations toward the U.S., he said your people will judge you by what you build up and not tear down. That meant a lot to me."
Craig said he met Powell during a rally of young people.
Randi Gill, a 16-year-old Bishop Kelley High student, arrived at the National Mall at 5:30 a.m. The swearing-in of Obama occurred at 11 a.m.
"It was one of the most crowded events that I have ever been to and one of the longest to wait for," Gill said in a text message to the Tulsa World.
Gill, who traveled with the People to People Student Ambassadors organization, was near the second-closest big-screen TV on the Mall.
Despite feeling like a "human ice cube," Gill said it was "worth it to feel that kind of love for our country."
Once the various government officials began to file out to the stage, Gill said all the trouble was worth it.
"It was amazing looking around and seeing all of the American flags waving at once when Obama came out. It was one of the most touching moments in life," Gill said. "And I love the fact that one day I will be able to tell my children about what I saw."
Marisa Schmidt, 15, of Sand Springs said she was fluttering with excitement as she waited to hear Obama's inaugural speech.
"It is hard to describe the experience, but I had butterflies in my stomach," the Metro Christian student said. "I was kind of far away, but I got to see the Megatron and it was a phenomenal event. People were crying and showing their happiness because they were seeing him become president. The feeling was phenomenal."
Schmidt said that people in the large crowd were considerate and friendly to each other. In addition to hearing Obama's inaugural address, Schmidt said she attended a rally in which former Vice President Al Gore and Archbishop Desmond Tutu appeared.
Julia Bays is an Obama campaign volunteer from Alva. She and her husband, Larry, attended the inauguration.
"He is the American dream," Julia Bays said.
"He has integrity and he has the intelligence."
Curtis Killman 581-8471
Omer Gillham 581-8301