Experience from the crowd


Jan. 20, 2009 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 19, 2009 at 7:20 p.m.

When President Barack Obama took the oath of office Tuesday morning on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., several Crossroads area residents were there to witness the historic moment.

They spoke about the experience Tuesday by phone soon after the new president completed his inaugural address.

To be included

Harold Simmons met all sorts of people from all kinds of places. But whether Swedish, Jamaican or Nicaraguan, they all had the same message.

"They're all saying the same thing," he said. "That this is a great day for America. A great day for the world. That God is smiling on America. That God is smiling on the world."

The El Campo man stood near the National Mall during Obama's inauguration. It was a really unexplainable experience for him, he said.

"We rejoice to know that the United States is living out the promises of its creed," he said.

Simmons remembered a time when he and fellow African Americans were forced to use separate facilities because of their race. He said Obama's inauguration was a further step in making things right in "the hearts of people."

"We just always wanted to be included," he said. "Not better than and not even equal. Just to be included."

Worth it in the end

Amber Gates got near the National Mall at 2:30 a.m, but wasn't able to find a place to watch the inauguration until 11 a.m.

"I ended up at the back of the Mall," she said. "It was crazy. There's so many people."

At first, this was a little upsetting, she said. But it ended up being worth it for the Sam Houston State University student from Victoria.

"When your kids are writing history reports about this, you can say that, 'Hey, you know, I was there,'" she said.

A really positive experience

The inauguration of Obama opened a whole new chapter for the United States, Keisha Smith said.

The Victoria woman campaigned for the new president during the 2008 campaign and was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in August. She was impressed by the president's speech Tuesday.

"I thought it was really positive," she said. "He said all the things that were needed to be said. He addressed the past, the present and the future."

Setting a tone

Dean Johnstone and his family drank hot tea and watched the sun rise over the U.S. capital city Tuesday morning.

"It was a pretty amazing day," he said.

They waited for hours on the National Mall to hear Obama deliver an inaugural address and the new president's words did not disappoint the Port Lavaca family.

"I think he was careful to set the tone," Johnstone said, adding. "I think he did a good job balancing it - not just pilling on the negatives."



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