As she navigated the crowded streets of Washington, D.C., Monday afternoon, there was a visible diversity that caught the eye of Ada Gay Griffin.
That diversity wasn’t limited to age or skin color, although that was very noticeable, too. No, Griffin could tell by the numerous football jerseys people had donned that Americans from the Atlantic to the Pacific had come to witness President Obama being sworn in for a second term.
“You see Denver Broncos jerseys, Seattle Seahawks, Steelers. Lots of Ravens, too,” Griffin said. And her Western Pennsylvanian roots were evident by her admission that there were just too many Ravens jerseys in the crowd to suit her.
Overall, according to Griffin, the mood was positive and upbeat as Americans celebrated the second inauguration of a black man on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The optimism impressed Jody Lydic too. Lydic and her husband, Jeff, had traveled to the nation’s capital so that 13-year-old Beverly Porter and their former ward, Nena Hatcher, could attend the inauguration.
An article about the Lydics’ plans appeared in Sunday’s Observer-Reporter and they were surprised when Dr. Arthur Keys Jr., president and CEO of International Relief & Development, contacted them and offered them four tickets in the orange area in front of the Capitol. Keys is a native of Washington County and still owns property near Amity.
“It was so awesome,” Lydic said by cellphone as they were driving home to Washington.
“It was a once in a lifetime thing. We told Beverly when you grow up and have kids they’re going to be studying this in their history books and you can say ‘I was there,’” she said.
Griffin wanted to see the King National Memorial but said there were so many people there she had difficulty in even getting a photograph.
There were other areas just as crowded, including the National Museum of African Art and other portions of the Smithsonian. Griffin spoke by cellphone while walking along Constitution Avenue in front of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building hoping to get a spot where she could watch the Inaugural Parade.
She could see senior citizens, some of them pushing their grandchildren in strollers, and many young boys and girls from different schools or organizations. There were street vendors selling memorabilia from t-shirts to calendars and many, many American flags. Earlier she had met an 80-year-old woman who had taken a bus from the Chicago suburbs just to watch the ceremony from a tavern.
“It’s just very inspiring,” Griffin, of Washington, said. “I’m here because I just wanted to be a part of this. I wanted to be counted. I think it’s very important.”
But standing on the Mall to hear the President’s address wasn’t as memorable as she had hoped. There was much confusion and noise and Griffin was unable to hear much. But she planned to hear what Obama had to say once home and watching C-Span.