It's been a hard four years for liberals. There's the radicalized and intractable opposition, the weak response to our sluggish economy, the widening inequality, and the ever-lengthening "Kill List" of extrajudicial, extralegal assassinations.
But we'll always have the 2009 inauguration.
Four years ago yesterday was the last day we all felt unreservedly good about the president: he was young, charismatic, intelligent, presiding over a Democratic House and Senate, and promising to usher in a new era of liberal politics. Remember all the faces? For days you couldn't read a newspaper without seeing photos of sobbing and/or jubilant people, often hugging and/or giving high fives. Frequently the giddy celebrators crossed racial lines for their commemorative hugs.
Even Dr. Ruth got in on the action:
Here's the Times front page from January 21st, 2009. For days beforehand, people were auctioning off the promise of Times inauguration issue on Ebay.
(The headline from today — the day after Obama was officially sworn in — is the rather more sober "Obama Takes Oath, Beginning Second Term." The lead article of yesterday's Times Sunday Review accuses Obama of being "a bad manager." No one on Ebay is selling copies of today's, or tomorrow's, paper.)
More than one million people (this blogger included) gathered in the mall in 2009, braving cold weather to watch the young president swear the oath of office. It was a near-record crowd — some estimates had it at 1.8 million — and it was almost entirely supportive: "Protesters, a fixture of every inauguration since President Nixon's in 1973, were few and scattered on Tuesday as Barack Obama assumed the presidency," the Times wrote at the time.
(Organizers estimate a turnout of somewhere between 500,000 and 800,000 this year, and the National Park Service expects "thousands" of protesters to demonstrate "against war, high unemployment and other national issues.")
We solicited stories from our readers. This is how you spent Inauguration Day:
I was in dc this morning and my metro car started singing gospel songs my favorite memory was this small young white girl going up to a group of older black women and asking them if they knew any of MLK's songs and then the ttain started singing we shall overcome
nearly everyone on the floor of my building gathered in the conference room to watch Obama take the oath and give his speech. it was really nice to have so many people actually CARE about witnessing this moment. i've never experienced anything like that before.
In Toronto, at the downtown Y, the women's lounge stuffed full of ladies glued to the tv. It was a party, someone even brought cake. Me on the couch next to an artist born in Harlem, both of us weeping a little. And a great big cheer, every one of us shouting for joy as he was proclaimed President Obama.
The whole world is watching!
I went to Marble College Church (5th and 29th) because I work alone and don't have a TV. And I wanted to watch in company with the African American people with whom I pray. A whole family behind me — grandmother, daughter and granddaughter. It was great. Aretha Franklin's hat got a big round of applause. Everyone stood for Obama's oath, and again for the Star Spangled Banner. Lots of hugging and kissing. Rev. Lowery's final benediction really got to all of us. Lots of amens from the group. What a day.
Feel free to share your stories of Inauguration 2013 with us below. Somehow, we feel they may not be quite as moving.
[photos via AP and Getty]