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Rite of Passage Reflections

8/1/2013 by Tris Holman Jerane Ransom

Washington, DC Trip to Presidential Inauguration
Traveling to Washington, DC for the inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama, was an eye opening, inspiring experience for Rites of Passage teens. This 4-day excursion afforded the youth and chaperones time to explore the National Mall, a central point of most sightseeing visits to Washington, DC. This tree-lined, open space between Constitution and Independence Avenues extends from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol Building. Ten of the Smithsonian Institution museums are located here, within the heart of the nation's Capitol, offering a variety of exhibits ranging from art to space exploration. While the National Mall, an expansive lawn site, is a great place to visit world class museums and national landmarks, it is also a gathering place to picnic, to attend outdoor festivals, to use as a site for protests, rallies, and of course, inaugurations.
The morning of January 21, 2013 dawned clear, cold and full of anticipation.  We roused early to prepare for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. As we left the hotel early that morning to travel to the National Mall, the peace from all who were on the Metrorail gave hope to a historic day. As we traveled together, people not only shared their stories from the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, but also those who were attending for the first time shared their excitement about the day.

We entered Washington, DC ahead of the crowd and stood anxiously waiting for the big moment to arrive. Unaware of how crowded The Mall had gotten, the teens looked around and were overwhelmed and excited realizing that they were a part of history in the making. They could say, "I was there".

The crowds filled the National Mall for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama with patience, pride and anticipation. Being there at that moment was truly a blessing. Cheers filled the air, creating an eagerness of the moment to come. People all around us were talking and sharing their stories about who they were, where they were from, and what it meant to be at the inauguration. This was a symbolic day. It was not only the celebration of the first African-American President’s second term of office but also the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

As the teens listened to the inauguration service, and particularly to President Obama's speech, they, along with others reflected on what the day meant to them:
Renaye Barnes
“It means a lot basically because we went from slavery to freedom, to the right to vote, to electing the first African American President. My responsibility as a student now is to get the best education that I can get so that I can move forward in life and become bigger than myself and more than anyone could have imagined.”

Sydney Bates
“ I thought that it was very spiritual that President Obama was inaugurated on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.  It was special because both of these men fought for the rights of all people. Dr. King fought for civil rights and President Obama is fighting for the rights of everyone. When President Obama gave his speech, he said all people must work together to make our country better.  At that point I understood that it meant for me to be a good citizen.”

Nkosi Evans
“A very momentous experience. History in the making. It shows how much of a role we play because we are the next generation of voters. What we experience here today will have an effect on how we vote tomorrow. It's important for young people to have a view of today in order to have an impact on politics tomorrow.”
Jasmane Quinn
“On the day of the inauguration there were a lot of people. Kind and caring people, it was a time of peace and love. People hearing music, laughing, talking and cheerfully awaiting for our president. When the president did his speech it was quiet as a mouse. As I was listening to his speech I realized that an education is very important and I need to stay focused.”
Sydney Ransom

“This day is important because it’s making history. Even though I'm a teenager I recognize that today has a lot of value. It's a once in a life time journey that I'm happy to be experiencing.” a great place to visit world class museums and national landmarks, it is also a gathering place to picnic, to attend outdoor festivals, to use as a site for protests, rallies, and of course, inaugurations.