National Mall Crowded on Inaugural Day
Crowds gather on the National Mall during the 56th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, which was one of the best-attended in history on 20 January 2009.

FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- America welcomed a new president and vice-president along with their wives 20 January and this public affairs officer had the great opportunity to participate.
As a member of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, I spent the two weeks rehearsing for the big event. We facilitated interviews with everyone from Al Roker of NBC's Today Show to military journalists building stories for the Pentagon Channel. While the Jonas Brothers sang and electrified the Verizon Center for the Kids' Inaugural Concert, we assisted journalists by matching them up with military members and their children for their impressions of the event.
My favorite memories will center on the conversations held with older black Americans from my own deep south. Every train ride into or out of town held special moments where former civil rights workers marveled that they had lived to see our first black president. Some had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others had braved physical threats to help others register to vote.
All in all, the positive energy that flowed through the District of Columbia, proved amazing in that the huge crowds stayed focused on the historic events, hunkered together against the windy cold, and left Washington with great memories and a new president.

Page last updated Sat January 31st, 2009 at 00:00