Friday, January 9, 2009

Inauguration Expedition Tips

If you are one of the 1.5 - 3 million people planning on attending the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America on January 20 of this year in Washington, D.C., I have a few tips for you based on my expedition to the last inauguration. My first tip is DRESS WARMLY! As you can see in the photo of my sister and me at the 2005 Inauguration in front of the Capitol's Inauguration outdoor stage, we were bundled up! It had snowed earlier and there were still bits and pieces of the white stuff on the grass, in spite of the thousands of footsteps melting it away. Not only is the ceremony outside, but when you consider all the time spent outdoors for security checks, walking from one venue to the next, waiting on public transportation, the parade, and activities on "The Hill", you will be out in the elements for many hours. There is a legend that the harsh weather is responsible for the death of a former president, after being in office for less than a month. President William Henry Harrison took the oath of office on an extremely cold, wet day. Nevertheless, he faced the weather without his overcoat and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history---it took at least two hours. He then rode through the streets in the Inaugural Parade. Thereafter, President Harrison became ill with a cold, which people at the time attributed to his Inauguration Day exposure. The cold worsened, rapidly turning into pneumonia and pleurisy. He died nine days after becoming ill---the first American President to die in office. Therefore, although he had the longest inauguration speech in American history, he had the the shortest term for any American president---only 30 days! So when your mama says "Child, put on your jacket before you go outside" you better heed her advice! My second tip is to contact your congressman regarding any special activities they are having for their constituents while in town for the ceremonies. My sister did that for us, and it resulted in us being invited to a lovely brunch held on "The Hill" in his office building. Although, the meal and getting to visit his office were quite nice, the best thing about it was what happened on the way there. Automobiles are not permitted near the building, so EVERYONE has a bit of a walk from the traffic barrier to the building entrance. That leads to my third tip: Be prepared to see some famous people! I happened to be right in front of the traffic barrier when a big, black van with blackened windows pulled up to the barrier, and big men in suits, dark sunglasses, and walkie-talkies jumped out from every door. I didn't know who they were protecting, but I got my camera ready, and Arnold Swartzeneager walked right in front of me! I was almost TOO CLOSE to get an in-focus photograph! And do you know what came out of my mouth when he walked in front of me? I said "Hi, Arnold!" like we were old buddies! I realized later, that was somewhat disrespectful, and I should have at least acknowledged his being a high-ranking politician and said, "Hello, Governor". But anyway, I got the shot, and it even got published in some area newspapers, with a "Photo by Tricia Turner" byline that, of course, thrilled me to no end. I made sure my California cousins knew I had a "close encounter" with their governor by sending them copies of the newspaper! My next tip is this: If you are going to an Inaugural Ball, you are going to have to leave the parade before it is over. My sister and I tried to "do it all", starting back to our hotel room at the end of the parade to change clothes in preparation for our planned experience as "Cinderella at the Ball". By the time we made it to the venue where our formal-attire event was being held, President and Laura Bush had already made their appearance, danced their dance, said their hellos, and moved on to the next ball. But we did get to hear the band, sample the food, and catch our breaths a little before heading back to our hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. For a listing of events that will help you prioritize your activities, go to the official website, which is . That stands for "Presidential Inauguration Committee-2009" . My final and most important tip for attending the Presidential Inauguration is to PRAY! As we were walking around on The Hill before the ceremony, a lady gave my sister and me, and many other people, a copy of the small book shown in photo above, called "Pray For Our Nation". Thousands of us had it to meditate on as we stood outside in front of the Capitol, waiting for the ceremonies to begin, and many were using that time, to do exactly what 2 Chronicles 7:14 commands: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." The eighty-eight page book had prayers for every imaginable aspect of our country's functioning, as well as prayers recorded from former U.S. Presidents. You can see many of these at and get a copy of the book for yourself. I would like to end this entry on attending the Presidential Inauguration, by quoting this prayer spoken by our first U.S. President: "Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate Blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit....Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son Jesus Christ." That is my prayer today for each of us, as well. Miles of smiles! Tricia
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