I ‘shot’ the president
By Elton Lugay
I missed his first inauguration, but promised myself to attend the next one when it became apparent Barack Obama was on his way to a second term.
So there I was at the media riser of the National Mall fronting the Capitol, frozen still, a Uniqlo scarf from an ex keeping my neck warm. I needed to thaw my hands so I could take photographs.
The official program started at about 11:30 a.m. of January 21st, a Monday, but people were massing up as early as Saturday midnight. I got there 11-ish of Monday. An estimated 800,000 people came to see the president and celebrate his election victory. It was overwhelmingly crowded, and unlike New Year’s Eve on Times Square, there was no special access lane for the media. Everyone went through common security checkpoints just like at the airports.
I learned that about 3,000 cops from all 50 states were deployed for the parade alone. The entire stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue was massively secured. One officer asked if I could take his picture as the president and first lady passed. Of course, I said, thinking, ‘You don’t say no to a man in uniform.’
Two hours later, the crowd began to chant and cheer. The president’s car had arrived and it was coming toward us. Quickly, I grabbed my camera and took pictures hoping to catch a glimpse of the first family. But only one window was open and it was not on my plank of the road. I ended up with tons of pictures of the ‘Men in Black’ contingent in their SUVs.
The Taiwanese photographer beside me was disappointed as well. He said this inauguration was no good, and that in the 2009 inaugural parade he saw the president in the flesh.
I smiled. In my mind, I’ve “seen” the president and shared the same grounds with him on this historic, frigid afternoon.
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