Jonathan Bardzik, director of marketing for the American Nursery & Landscape Association, was among the million or so people to witness President Barack Obama’s inauguration in person. TrueLeaf Technologies CEO Jim Reardon, pictured with fiancé Patty Windmueller, was among those in attendance, too. They both recapped their experiences with us and shared a few photos.
Bardzik On The Inauguration
“President Obama’s inauguration was an incredible event to witness. The crowds were like nothing I had ever seen in Washington, D.C. before with people densely thronging through the streets near the Capitol that had been closed off to traffic. Yet, there was such an air of civility and calm. People were gladly offering directions, picking up dropped gloves and chasing after to return them to their owners, and greeting each other warmly.
“Great respect was shown, not only for the incoming president, but for the event and the other leaders present. While he was certainly not a fan favorite in this crowd, President and First Lady Bush were greeted with applause, not the boos I have heard at several other events in town.
“As I have heard from so many friends, this was a proud day to be an American. Whether you view the election of President Obama as an accomplishment due to his race or ideals, or simply marveled at yet another seemingly effortless transition of power, there was strong reason to respect America, its citizens and our leaders.
“As a side note, while it was an experience I would not have missed, I am a bit jealous of friends and family who watched the event from the warmth of their living rooms!”
Rearden, who lives in California, arrived in the Washington, D.C., area the Thursday before the big event. His fiancé, Patty Windmueller, lives in Silver Springs, Md. The couple got up bright and early Tuesday morning to brave the crowds and make their way to the inauguration ceremony.
“We had a whole plan and downloaded maps. We were going to get off by the Verizon Center and cross over to the mall, north of the Washington Monument,” Rearden recalls. “There was a mass of people filling up the block. Security was overwhelmed. Metal detectors were not working. There were FBI and military personnel everywhere you looked. Security blocks were only letting three to four people in at a time, so we started walking to the south end, where they didn’t have security blocks. We stood halfway to the Lincoln Memorial by the Jumbotron screen on a little knoll. We got to our spot at 10:30 and the ceremony started at 11:30.”
From the train to the Metro to the mall and then to the airport the next day, hundreds of thousands of people were shoulder to shoulder. “It was absolutely dense, like being in a river,” he says. “The amazing thing is although we were shoulder to shoulder, everyone was so orderly, so nice. The next day at the airport was such a zoo and crowds were so pressing. Missed flights were just accepted. I’ve never seen people so congenial. Everybody drank the same Koolaid and was so nice to each other.”
One of the best parts was meeting fascinating people, like a grandmother from Seattle, who dressed her grandson in orange and put a shipping tag on his clothes to make sure she wouldn’t lose him, Rearden says.
Check out photos from Rearden. Follow his Inauguration Day journey. He took photos of his ride on the Metro, his march toward the Capitol, enthusiastic Americans, and he even got a shot of former President George W. Bush’s helicopter departure above the Washington Monument.