When most students on winter break were still fast asleep, senior Kiley Rummler was at the National Mall at 7:30 a.m., waiting for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration to begin.
In the morning, Rummler and her friends didn’t see many people as they traveled from where they were staying in Bethesda, Md., to Washington, but that changed when they reached their destination.
“Once we got to where the Mall was and where the Washington Monument was, it was insane,” she said. “That was the most people I had ever seen in my entire life.”
Although Rummler was approximately a mile away by the Washington Monument and in front of the last JumboTron, the experience was worth it. By the time the inauguration took place, only Rummler and one friend was left. The other two had left because of the cold.
“People were really nice there,” she said. “It wasn’t loud, it wasn’t like people were screaming and yelling. It was really quiet. People were patiently waiting.”
At such an important event, the special officers and police officers from all across the country eventually closed the entrances to the Mall for safety purposes. There were even snipers out in plain view so people in the crowd knew they were safe. Rummler admitted that she never felt unsafe.
“I expected it to be crazier with riots or something,” she said.
With four and a half hours until the inauguration, Rummler spent the time meeting the people around her.
“It was so crazy and we took a lot of time to just talk to people we met,” Rummler said. “There were two guys from Zimbabwe. They just said that they had to come. Everyone we talked to they just said, ‘We had to be here.’”
There were a lot of parents attending the inauguration with children, and one couple Rummler saw had their baby strapped onto one’s back. Another boy was holding up signs and giving them out to people who wanted them.
One of the Washington police officers said that in her 26 years on the police force she had “never witnessed anything like this,” according to Rummler.
When Obama first came out of the U.S. Capitol building the crowd “erupted,” according to Rummler. However, it didn’t stay loud for very long. For the number of people who were present, the crowd was surprisingly quiet during Obama’s inauguration speech, she said.
“When he was talking it was dead silence,” Rummler said. “I’ve never seen that many people be quiet. Everyone was just listening to what he had to say.”
Unfortunately, to avoid being stuck in the city when some of the metros shut down, Rummler had to leave before the speech ended. After her experience, Rummler said she would go to other inaugurations in the future.
During the hours spent on the Mall, Rummler saw only one group of protesters holding signs, but that was the exception.
“Everyone was there for the same reason,” she said. “Everyone just wanted to get as close as possible.”