Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One point in time.

The library where I work invited the campus to watch the inauguration of Obama at the library throughout the day on Tuesday January 20th. The TVs in the lobby were tuned to NBC's coverage of the events, the babble of reporters mingling with the sound of students chattering as they entered the library. In the auditorium, the big screen was lit up with live coverage of the proceedings through CNET.

I ducked in a little before noon to watch Obama as he was sworn in and gave his inagugural speech. The seats were mostly full with students and faculty. The students snickered here and there when the closed-captioning on the screen misspelled words (I pitied the poor people writing the captioning since they were doing it live), so "Barak" sometimes showed up as "rock" or "hindu" was "due", while the faculty were quiet. The room became quite still when Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians performed John Williams' "Air and Simple Gifts" and I noticed for the first time in my life how achingly beautiful a cello sounds, melancholy and inspiring at the same time. We all clapped when Obama finished his oath, and I noticed that no one snickered when the closed-captioning mangled some of Obama's words.

This was a unique experience. We were not physically at the inauguration, yet the sense of community in that room was palpable. Together, we watched history unfold, knowing that we were active participants in the transition of presidential power.

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