(Host) Tens of thousands descended on Washington over the weekend for the inauguration of Barack Obama as president.
Molly Davies of Stowe is among them. This will be the second time she’s witnessed a new president sworn in.
VPR’s Ross Sneyd has her story.
(Sneyd) As soon as Obama won the White House, Davies was determined to be in Washington to see him take the oath of office.
On Tuesday, she’ll celebrate her 65th birthday and the future she envisions for her grandchildren.
(Davies) “For months, that phrase, the first phrase of the Constitution, `we the people,’ has just been running through my mind. I’ve been like this for months. I just practically break down in tears every time I speak about it. So I just want to be there, shoulder to shoulder and in this case probably back to back and belly to belly if there are as many people as they say. And just participate some how.”
(Sneyd) Just like she did 48 years ago. Her dad was an active Republican then, but a friend got him tickets to see the young, Democratic John Kennedy take the oath of office.
The family attended an inaugural ball and Davies remembers meeting poet Robert Frost and his family.
(Davies) “So I sat with them and we all sang the national anthem. I was just ecstatic. You can imagine, 17-year-old meets Robert Frost.”
(Sneyd) She even got to shake hands with First Lady Jackie Kennedy and the new president.
Issues of race have been important to Davies since her early job experience in the civil rights movement in New York.
To see how far the country has come since then, electing a black man from a mixed-race family, inspired her trip to Washington.
Davies didn’t think she’d have an opportunity to get anywhere near Obama for the 2009 inaugural.
But her daughter, April Taylor, entered the Vermont congressional delegation’s lottery for scarce official inaugural tickets – and won.
(Davies) “Hi. In fact here comes the aforementioned daughter and three grandchildren. …. Hello. … These are the grandkids that are going to know that we the people did it. Hi. Hi. … Hi, Gracie, come over. (Laughs)”
(Sneyd) Taylor is as excited about her mom going to the inauguration as Davies is herself.
(Taylor) “It’s neat for me, for the kids to see somebody of color is going to be the president. I’m going to cry. These children are all foreign born. So they can’t ever run for office, so that’s not the point. The point is anybody can do this. It really means for the first time that anybody can do this.”
(Sneyd) Taylor’s adopted children were born in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Davies and her partner should have prominent seats for the swearing-in. If they even take those seats.
(Davies) Davies: “It depends. If there are 2 million people between us and Capitol Hill, it might be a little hard to get there.”
Sneyd: “But if you don’t go up there, you might not be able to shake the new president’s hand this time.”
Davies: “Oh, he has my heart and best wishes. I don’t need to shake his hand.”
(Sneyd) It’ll be enough, Davies says, just to be in the capital. With all those crowds.
For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.
Photo courtesy of April Taylor