Oh, have I waited for this day. On January 20, 2017, I was on a work trip in Southern California. The week been sunny and beautiful until that Friday. I woke up to pouring rain and air so chilly, my fuzzy North Face came in handy. Yes, that happens in SoCal. I didn’t want to watch Trump’s inauguration, but deciding to buck up and face it, I flipped the TV on. I was just in time to catch his swearing in and his speech—none of which alleviated the rising dread that flooded my body to 1. Hear him talk; 2. See our National Mall awash in those silly red hats. The weather in DC was as awful as it was in California that day: cold, dark, foreboding. It was ominous.
On my red eye flight out of LAX that night, the plane was packed with Californian women winging their way East to protest in the Women’s March. Wearing pink hats with the pointed cat ears, they were ready for business. After a flight where no one slept, we alighted in Baltimore with all of them headed directly to DC to let the new president know exactly what they thought of him.
A few weeks later, my family protested the Muslim travel ban at Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall International Airport. Protesting the Trump administration in word and deed became a new part of my existence. What a heavy four years it has been. And the last two months—sheesh.
But on Inauguration day 2021, the sun was shining bright. And the wind was quite strong. Perfect as nature had to clear out the funk in the air that departed early in the morning. It is exactly two weeks since domestic terrorists stormed the capital building. And a lot of us have been concerned that there was something horrific planned for today’s ceremonies. Personally, I have been praying for the safety and protection of all involved from Joseph R. Biden, right down to the guy tasked with dutifully disinfecting the podium after every speaker and performer.
And it couldn’t have gone any better. It was peaceful. It was safe. It was a new day.
Highlights of the day for me:
- Kamala Devi Harris (Aunty) becoming the first female VP of this country and a Jamaican, South Indian, Howard graduate, and AKA sister at that! I’m so proud to have witnessed that.
- Meena Harris’ little daughters with their matching tundra coats and fluffy pigtails. Maybe one day it will be one of them sworn into the highest office of the land.
- The fashion of the ladies: Dr. Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, all the monochromatic and perfectly matched masks of the Biden women, Ella Emhoff, and Lady Gaga with a big ole dove of peace on her top!
- Joe Biden’s speech: unity, equity, hope. A promise to try to bind the wounds and work together. The man has the track record to show he knows how to reach across the aisle. I look forward to it.
- Amanda Gorman. Good night. This woman. This poem. This brilliance. This truth. Wow. God broke the mold when He made her. That is all.
- When the Harris-Emhoffs bid the Pence’s goodbye. Karen Pence said something to Doug Emhoff that got them all laughing. It goes to show you—at the end of the day, we are all just human beings looking to be friendly with friendly people.
- The executive orders President Biden signed to get us on the right side of history. Yes, there is climate change. Yes, we needed to get back on the Paris Accord. He wasted no time and I’m here for it.
- The new ALL-FEMALE communications team and the first press conference presided over by Jen Psaki. What a breath of fresh, life-giving air! No lying (go ahead, fact-check everything she said), no combativeness, no rude and petty behavior to the press pool. Just a whip smart, competent woman being transparent and letting the American people know what’s what.
- ACTUAL PLANS FOR FIGHTING COVID. As an American citizen, this is the first time in four long years I feel looked after by my country’s leadership. We have needed this so bad.
- The Inaugural Concert. Given where we are and what is going on? This event was about making as many of us feel included in the celebration as possible. Something most of us never come close to through any of the inaugural balls we don’t get to go to. Also, I have a hunch the Bidens and Harris-Emhoff’s weren’t too bummed about missed out on rounding nine balls this evening.
- The Fireworks!!! So, a huge blessing of my life is living in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area and the nation’s capital is just a drive away. I love to go down to the capital at night—traffic is gone, street parking is easily found, and the monuments and memorials at night hit completely different than daytime. I wanted to drive down tonight, but we knew there were tons of road closures, etc. However, it would have been so worth it to see those fireworks! Honestly, they looked like the type that would be set off to celebrate victory over World War 3, which I guess it kind of was.
- Finally, this was Joe Biden’s hard-won inauguration to the highest office in the land. But everything about the events of the day, from the speeches to the performances, to the overall vibe, was about healing the collective nation, not about celebrating him. It was this country’s big day and that felt good.
The Trump years are now a thing for history books and documentaries. I pray the media stops covering his and his family’s stupid shenanigans as the nation gets on with the business of working through the serious problems that need immediate attention.
But today? Today was a really great day.