Blog: Professor Dan Duran's Insight to Recent History

Monday, February 9, 2009

Business administration professor Dan Duran was in Washington D.C. during the 44th Presidential Inauguration this past January 20. In the following blog he reflects on the election and how he and his family played a role in history.

On November 4, my wife Alicia and I were glued to the election coverage throughout the night and while we had cast our vote for Hilary Clinton during the run-up we easily converted to Obama supporters once he had the nomination in hand. We picked up our official Obama/Biden yard sign at the Wednesday night farmers market in Whittier after a $5 donation. We stuck it in front of our home on Catalina Avenue knowing that the only folks who would spot it other than our close friends and family, would be the natural preserve ranger, the UPS/FedEx/Mailman, and the lost souls who would figure out that the road ended ten yards from our home.

Once Obama secured the required electoral college votes Alicia used her extensive Internet savvy on election night to secure us roundtrip flights to DC (using our frequent flyer miles), a room at the Sheraton in Old Town Alexandria (again using our Starwood points) that was close to the metro. Then it was up to me to secure us tickets to the inauguration. I assured her that I would beg every politician and elected official for tickets. We were on a score of lists and we were ecstatic when Congresswomen Linda Sanchez's office said that we had two standing tickets. Bless you Congresswoman Sanchez as you have been a great friend of Whittier College and also came through with two tickets.

Tickets in hand we headed off to DC for the inauguration. Wanting to make the trip fun and memorable we managed to coordinate with a dozen of our closest Latino buddies that included a couple of business entrepreneurs, a dynamic female judge, Ana (Alicia's best friend) and her retired attorney husband (Henry, also my amigo), and several others who would also be in DC for the inauguration.

We arrived on Friday late in the evening at Richmond Int. Airport. The next day we went with our buds to the Kennedy Center to enjoy a rapturous presentation of Don Quixote by the Mariinsky Ballet and then a dozen of us piled into a limousine designed for ten and headed out to Georgetown to enjoy a libation to our incoming President. We all agreed in a moment of margarita infused post-ballet jabber that we would brave the crowds and cold and head en masse on Sunday to the concert on the mall.

 On Sunday, after an incredible brunch mixer at the Four Seasons with our generous Latino business entrepreneur friends (who mixed us up with a previous Mexican governor of Michoacán, the probably new Latino Secretary of the Navy from Tejas, and some other notables whose names I have already forgotten) about a dozen of us walked the two or three miles (could have been a hundred given the frigid conditions that pained every foot forward) we arrived at the mall and went through security with a newfound set of friends (perhaps a hundred thousand more or less).

It was dang cold but we found a cozy spot about a kilometer away from the Lincoln memorial and next to a jumbo monitor and a tent with cold coffee and chips that had a line at least a zillion miles long. We stood in place and occasionally jumped up and down and got to know our standing neighbors from Arizona, New Jersey, Sao Palo (Brazil), St. Thomas, Maine, and other points all much warmer than our own. Everyone was ecstatic to be there and while we were massed up like a million vertical sardines we were kind to each other and shared stories. I had not seen so many people assemble for a common cause since the Summer of Love back in San Francisco forty years ago. We managed to stay almost to the end then followed our friends back to the closest hotel where we enjoyed glasses of wine and heard our President elect eloquently welcome the crowd and share his smile and joy with a hundred-plus of his closest supporters.

 On Monday we made our way back to DC via the metro to secure our inauguration tickets. After standing in the wrong line for an hour we joined the right line and met lots of great people with good attitudes over the two hours it took us to make it into Congresswoman Linda Sanchez' office. Her chief of staff, Michael Jose Torra, was gracious and gave us our tickets and said to give his and the Congresswoman Sanchez's best to Whittier College. We were ready for the inauguration and spent the evening with our friends at a seafood restaurant in Georgetown where the wine was much better than their seafood. We had a blast and made another hundred or so friends who were all there to enjoy a nice meal before lining up the next morning before daybreak to witness the inauguration of our 44th President.

Back at the hotel, we laid our warmest clothes, asked for a 5 a.m. wake up call, and then went to sleep feeling ready for the dawn of a new day and a new President. We left the hotel by 5:30 a.m. and a little before 6 a.m. we boarded the metro and found that every seat was full and that standing room was precious. The metro ride was a phenomenal adventure as everyone was alert, excited, and eager to share stores of their home town, how they had supported Obama, and give advice on where and how to enjoy the inauguration. The metro ride that should have taken 20 minutes took almost an hour and a half as trains were backed up and we were all crowded together like upright sausages ready to roll of the processing line.

Finally, we arrived at our stop, Capitol South, and joined a billion or two other people in search of their entry lines. We found our line, the Blue line, and stood with our Blue ticket holder buds in a line at least fifty people wide and perhaps a half mile or more from the security gates. We stood in line for almost four hours in temperatures that never reached freezing (30 degrees Celsius) and bonded with the immediate cluster of fellow ticked holders who also were proud Blues.

Perhaps the sun was out but we were human icicles and we were convinced that we would loose our toes to frostbite and perhaps the tips of our noses but we hall held on to witness what we believed would be a historic event. As this may be a publicly available discourse suffice it to say that the crowds were incredibly tolerant give the slow and totally overwhelmed screening forces assigned to our Blue ticket cavalcade.

We managed to make it through the security lines and then raced on numb legs to our standing spot where we heard Aretha's soulful tones, marveled  at her inauguration bonnet, and then stood in silent rapture to hear our new President take the oath of office. Abrazos to President Obama and we were thrilled and honored to witness the inauguration and will put it our bid early for seating tickets for your next inauguration.