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Local residents excited to attend Obama's inauguration

January 21, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION and CALEB CALHOUN | davem@herald-mail.com and caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • A group of Hagerstown residents boarded a bus Monday morning to attend the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.
By Caleb Calhoun/Mobile Journalist

Passing within 20 feet of President Obama on the parade route, being cast into a sea of people estimated at 700,000 and witnessing a shared sense of hope among attendees made the president’s inauguration Monday an event that one “won’t soon forget,” according to Washington County people who were in attendance.

Local residents talked Monday about the awesome experience of witnessing such an event live and trying to maneuver in Monday’s huge crowd.

Hagerstown City Council member Lewis C. Metzner said security surrounding the event was “overwhelming, in a positive sense” and was like getting through security at an airport. As soon as President Obama finished his speech, Metzner said he left to come back home to avoid the “mad house.”

“Nothing was delayed or anything. Everyone just took their time,” said Tamara Doleman, chairperson of the board of directors for the Doleman Black Heritage Museum in Hagerstown. Doleman organized a bus ride to Washington for the inauguration.

Sean Cremins, a 2001 North Hagerstown High School graduate and member of the Boston College marching band that performed in the inaugural parade, said there were no more motel rooms left in the Washington, D.C., area for his group to stay in.

So The “Screaming Eagles” Marching Band had to stay in Baltimore.

Cremins said he and his colleagues had to leave Baltimore by 6:30 a.m. Monday to make it to Washington to begin preparing for the day’s events.

Although Cremins said it made for a long day, “it’s an experience I won’t soon forget.”

Among the experiences for Cremins was coming within 20 feet of the president on the parade route.

“It was fantastic. Everyone was just beautiful spirit wise,” Doleman said.

Carol Austin of Hagerstown grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., and expressed regret about not attending as many events as she could have in the city, so when a chance to go to this year’s inauguration came up, she took it.

“I didn’t want to miss this chance when I’m still fit enough,” Austin, 68, said. “I’ve been looking for a way to get there without going all by myself.”

Austin, who went on the bus trip, said she found out about the ride through a bulletin at Ebenezer AME Church.

This was the first time she had gone to a presidential inauguration and her first trip to an event on the National Mall since Independence Day in the 1970s.

“I’m interested in being part of a crowd there for the common good,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the feeling of patriotism and joy of being on the mall.”

Eight people, all Obama supporters, boarded the bus for the ride. None attended the inauguration in 2009.

“Just the whole event itself is part of history,” Anna Doleman, 66, said. “It’s also on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

The bus was scheduled to drive the passengers to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in the District, and from there they would take the Metro to get to the mall.

Passengers began to board the bus just before 6 a.m. Monday.

“I wanted to go the first time President Obama was inaugurated, but no one else I knew wanted to go, and I didn’t want to go by myself that day because I knew the crowd would be huge,” said Shelly Miller, 47, of Hagerstown. “When this opportunity came up, I jumped on it.”

Rohrersville resident Thomas Ruhf, who also rode the bus, said he thinks the second Inauguration is more important than the first.

“You get elected once and then twice, and that doesn’t happen too often in America,” he said. “It’s a reaffirmation, and I wanted to make sure there were plenty of people there.”

Ruhf, 63, said he has always wanted to be present for an inauguration.

“Just being with all the other people who want to be there is going to be exciting,” he said. “This is all about us.”

As the passengers prepared to leave for the inauguration, some of them mentioned big expectations they have for Obama’s second term.

Miller added that she expects the president to “have his house in order” by the time he leaves office.

“President Clinton left office with cash reserves and President Obama came into office with debt,” she said. “I’m hoping he’s going to be able to follow through with some of the promises he made initially that I’m sure are still on his agenda and get things cleaned up overseas as far as getting our troops back home.”

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