By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Editor in Chief
Standing among a sea of strangers and without a clear view of the stage, Erin Jordan left her cramped spot in the Washington, D.C., mall area and climbed on a concrete street barrier.
After riding in a van for more than 29 hours, spending Monday morning moving slowly through a multitude of bodies and shivering in the frigid D.C. temperatures, Jordan was not going to miss the show: President Barack Obama taking his oath of office several hundred yards and severalthousand people in front of her.
“I didn’t sleep the night before because I just didn’t want to miss it,” said Jordan, senior integrated marketing communication major from Albany, Ga. “I could see the Capitol building but I couldn’t see faces or anything and I wasn’t tall enough to see the jumbo tron.”
Jordan and a group of students, faculty, staff and their family members journeyed more than 800 miles from ACU’s campus to the nation’s capital to witness the inauguration of the first black president of the United States first hand. But after driving through several states and overcoming several obstacles, some members of the group said their journey was just as memorable as the destination.
“It was beautiful.just feeling the camaraderie and the brother and sisterhood we developed in the car with my fellow students, faculty and Christian brothers and sisters,” said Dawkwaun Hampton, sophomore business management major from Waco.
The group of 19 embarked on their journey early Saturday morning and returned Thursday morning. George Pendergrass, director of Multicultural Enrichment, checked out two white ACU vans for the trip after discovering several ACU inauguration ticket holders were looking for a ride. Pendergrass and the majority of the other members in the group received their tickets from Dr. Tanya Brice, associate professor of social work, who was given several tickets to the inauguration by Rep. Randy Neugebauer.
Hampton said he requested a ticket from his hometown congressman, Rep. Chet Edwards from Waco, the day after Election Day. He knew he had to see Obama’s inauguration in person.
“He is a big role model,” said Hampton, who watched the inauguration from Edwards’ office.
The group drove through seven states before finally arriving in D.C on Sunday. Once in D.C., the group split up and went to various inauguration events, including the special concert and parades. But because of the crowds of people, not every member of the group got into the inauguration grounds Monday.
“We were on our feet the entire day – from the time we got up at 4 a.m. to the time we got back to the hotel at 7 p.m. It was a very, very long day,” Pendergrass said.
Although Anthony Williams, director of retail and Campus Stores manager, said he was a loyal Republican, he said partisanship did not stop him from witnessing history. Along with his wife Lynette, their 8-year-old son John and their 14-year-old daughter Alissa, the Williams’ family traveled with the ACU group.
“I made up my mind that I was going to be there, whatever it took, not so much for me, but I really wanted to use it as an opportunity to motivate and encourage my children,” Williams said.
Pendergrass stood behind the reflection pool Monday morning, and the size of the crowd and sight of history made him feel like he was “part of history in the making.”
“Our 21st Century Vision talks about certain aspects of global awareness and service,” Pendergrass said. “It’s funny because [Obama’s] speech was all about that. It was about becoming more globally in tune; it was about making sure that the world knows that we are a friend to every nation; it was about becoming a nation that serves one another. I just thought, ‘Wow, this speech could’ve been given by Dr. Money’ because it fit perfectly with our 21st Century Vision.”
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