Sunday, February 1, 2009

Did the Criminals Take the Day Off?


You can't help but be impressed by the sight of those millions of people gathered on the National Mall, stretching from Capitol Hill to, it seems, infinity. The blur of colors, points of light, shades and shadows will become an iconic image, I believe: symbolic of the joy, hope, belief--and let's face it relief that Dubya is gone--of a nation reborn.

On the ground, the feeling was electric. Whether moving or standing still, you were in what used to be considered someone else's personal space. You heard several references to packed sardines. On the Metro train, you were simply up against one another and daring anyone on the platform to try to squeeze in. That's how I finally got on the train, by squeezing in despite the protests of those already on the train: "There's no more room!" "Make room," I replied, as kindly as I could. "I've got to meet a couple of buses." (Of course, I was referring to the two busloads of passengers on their way from Frederick, Maryland to some parking real estate near the Mall.)

Although the train jolted us up against one another time and time again, nobody--I mean nobody--got ugly. Some people expressed their discomfort: "I got a bad back. My arm is tired." But everyone remained polite, chatty, and at times, downright joyous as one group broke into the "Obama" chant.

All along that 3 hour Metro experience (we arrived at about 6 a.m. and finally emerged from the underground just before 9, all this time with no cell phone service, mind you), and in the crush of people in the Metro station, and the crush in the streets --I never once felt afraid.

Fear Itself


Fear kept many from venturing
to DC on this day. Very early in this project, a partner backed out because, she said, she had a "bad feeling" about the trip. The news media chirped in: "4 to 5 Million People Expected"; "Is DC Ready for the Crowd?" "High Security: Expect to be Searched" "Not Enough Port-A-Potties." People who had lived in DC, and who currently live there, worried about DC's notorious C.R.I.M.E. victimizing the helpless crowd. There was the threat of a terrorist attack or terrible weather. "What would you do in a disaster, down there with all those people. Remember Katrina!" And toward the end, we had to look out for that "lone wolf" who could escape detection up to and even after blowing up a few hopeful families as they cheered "Obama!" into the chilly January air.

"You just can't trust people" is the message in all that fear mongering. But on the ground in DC, I felt I could trust people. I felt people were drawn to this place on this day for the same or similar reasons as I. I felt that the criminals, if they were there, were there for the same reason. If they were there, they were there to see Barack Hussein Obama become president. If they were there, they blended in. If they were there, they must have taken the day off. Have you heard any reports of criminal activity in and around the Capitol on January 20, 2009?

Not only did the criminals behave themselves, but everyday people from all over the country and the world--we all just got along.

Imagine.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

With Gratitude

I don't know about the rest of you, but it's taken me several days to recover from our Washington, DC excursion. Every muscle in my body was feeling the physical and emotional weight of this monumental occasion. For me, the months of planning and executing are over, but the impact of being present in DC for the inauguration of President Barack H. Obama will endure for the rest of my life.

Not everything went as scheduled. For one, it took us three hours for a 15-minute Metro ride from Clarendon Station in Virginia to L'Enfant Plaza in DC. The last hour was spent STUCK in the subway station (see video). Therefore, I was unable to meet the buses from Frederick as they rolled into DC along with 10,000 other buses. My brother Khalid Moss, a reporter for the Dayton Daily News, says he will watch the next inauguration on TV. He did not enjoy the "
Human Gridlock." I, however, had a life-changing experience, and I'm grateful for the success of our endeavor as measured by your responses to me through emails, phone calls, and cards. This trip was the first I have organized in many, many years. And, of course, I did not do it alone. So, here is my list of public thank yous:

I thank my mother Frances Moore and my mother-in-law Gloria Johnston for their support through this entire venture. I thank my 100-year-0ld Nana for the fur hat and coat. I never felt the cold. I thank my husband David and brother Johnny for agreeing to watch the inauguation from the hotel so the 2 and 3-year-old children would not have to be out in the 17 degree weather. Thanks to my brother Khalid for tipping off the local media and hauling boxes of food and drinks onto the bus. I thank Linda, Andrea, Bree, Allen, and Jasmine for their excellent service on the bus. And Linda especially for all the running around she did before the trip. Thanks to Jerome for helping me populate Bus 2 with the lively and interesting educators from Longfellow and Wogamon Elementary schools in Dayton. I am grateful to ALL OF YOU who signed up for this trip. Your patronage, patience, and many words and acts of kindness as we worked through one issue after another provided us with valuable experience.

You can help us improve our service for our future travelers (I hope you will be among them!). Please take a few moments to fill out our survey or send an email. You can also leave comments on this blog and remain anonymous.

To our new President, thank you for taking on the massive responsibility of pulling our nation together and for reviving the spirit of "Yes we can!" in so many, me included. Finally, I am grateful to God for seeing us safely to Washington and back home again and for making all things possible.

Help us build an online scrapbook of our experience. Share your story and pictures. You can post them as a comment, or you can email me and I will post them on the main page. Let those who traveled with you, and those who did not, know what it felt like, looked like, smelled like--to be on the ground along with 1.8 million people for this history-making event. In generations to come, your grandchildren's children will do a search about the inauguation, and your stories/pictures (if I tag them correctly) just might pop up!
video

Monday, January 12, 2009

Did You Think it Ended with a Vote?

We are a week away from embarking on our historic journey to the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Like everyone else living in this country during this event, we will be witnessing history being made. As we travel from Ohio to Washington, DC, we are not only witnessing, but also taking part in that history. We will all have our own stories to tell.

Julia Ewing is travelling with us along with her two grandaughters, Tobi and Brielle. Their story appeared in this past Sunday's Dayton Daily News. Julia wrote me about the upcoming trip:

Yesterday, January 6, 2009
My Grand daughter and myself were interviewed by the Dayton Daily News in honor of us attending the inauguration in Washington, DC January 20, 2009. We felt very honored in this historical time. I had thought and felt just us going would be a memorable time for us. but, When the Dayton Daily News called to ask me if they could do a story on my granddaughters and myself!! I felt so blessed!


We sure had a good time taking the picture and laughing and just being silly. They spoke so intelligently like the young ladies they have become. I was so proud of them. (I got a little full) Soooo, Anyway! Look for our Article in Sunday's Dayton News Paper January 11, 2009. (may be front page)

Please, there will be NO autographs at this time.. Possibly went we return from the Ball! ;-)Love you family and friends!!j-


I hope all of you will share your experiences, photos, etc. on this blog even after we return. But I'm way ahead of myself. First, some news, some information, and a modest request.


We Have a Winner!

Ancestral Blessings is the winner of the "The Things They Carried" contest. Her survivial pack won because it is practical and she followed all the rules of the contest!

All items can be carried in a Fanny Pack:
1. Cell Phone – that is completely charged & has JB’s ph# programmed
2. Compact Pocket Size Hooded Emergency Rain Poncho
3. Antibacterial Hand wipes (travel size)
4. Hand Warmers (can be used for hands or feet)
5. Map of the DC area

Congratulations Ancestral Blessings. You will receive your prize on the bus.

There were other great entries . I want to share two for those of you who don't want to go back and read the comments.

Here is a great, comprehensive, very sensible list from Mr. Richberg that was too long to win the contest (limited to 5 items):

the things they carry- should consist of 2 pieces of photo I.D, cellphone and ac/charger,anti-bacterial wipes,wool pullover cap,woolgloves,warm insulated coat with removable insert(case it gets warm but I doubt it),disposable camera,chap stick,lotion,debit/creditcard,$20.00 cash in singles. All can be carried in fanny Pack or coat or jacket pockets. you should already have on warm socks,comfortable shoes and pants, thermal under top and bottom. you should also expect bad phone reception so brush up on your ability to texts messege.

And finally, dazzlingd had the most inspirational list which I hope we will ALL carry with us:

My 5 things to carry:
1. God, I don't leave home without Him.
2. A whole lot of Patience.
3. Consideration of others.
4. A small version of the American flag.
5. Pride

Thanks to all of you for your great advice.


Where Will Our Buses Park?

Hurrah! We have secured the location where our two buses will park in DC, and it is just blocks away from the Capitol Building, the National Mall, the Supreme Court Building, the Washington Monument, and L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. Here is a
map of the area. "I" Street, where we will park, is less than half a mile from the center of everything - the Capitol steps. I will distribute a map of the area on the buses.

If you have not purchased a Metro Commemorative fare card, here is some information from my recent experience.

1. Less than a week ago, I paid for my two passes online and received them in the mail within three business days.
2. They are not "cards," but flimsly slips of paper that will nonetheless get you unlimited riding on the Metro for one day.
3. Even though the turnaround time for me was short, I would suggest you call DC Metro before you purchase at this late date. They may advise you to wait until you get to a station to purchase one there.

Again, you do not need to ride the Metro to get to the Capitol or the Mall. But if you want to go to Union Station for some shopping, or to a Georgetown restaurant, or any of the great places to visit in DC, consider taking the Metro.



Did You Think Your Participation Ended with a Vote?

President-Elect Obama is urging Congress to act on his economic stimulus plan soon. Do you support or oppose the plan? Do you know what it is?

We all clambered to request tickets to the inauguration from our Congressional representatives. Now I ask that we all call, email, or write them again to say how we think they should respond to Obama's proposals. No, of course, we have not ceased to be participating citizens of this country just because the election is over!


See you in seven!



Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Contest: The Things They Carry



Today begins the third pre-bus-boarding contest for which you can win a prize selected especially for you. The winner of the Scavenger Hunt was dnyamini. The second contest is ongoing: suggest a movie we should watch on the bus and if your suggestion is chosen, you win a prize.

The third contest involves your putting together a "Survival Kit" for those of us braving the crowds, weather, and whatever else! to be present in Washington, DC, for the inaugural activities. Remember, Homeland Security has prohibited certain items from being brought into the "ticketed area" (see below). While most of us don't have tickets to the swearing-in ceremony, we are still subject to being searched in the DC area around the Capitol building and the National Mall.

Red Cross officials have announced plans for 52 first aid stations along the parade route and near the National Mall. There will be approximately 5,000 portable toilets available for visitors.

Still, we should be prepared with our own survival pack. So, what should be in that pack and how best should we carry these items?

That's the contest: List 5 essential items that should be in the Survival Pack and the best way to carry them on our bodies. Make sure nothing is on the "Prohibited Items" list. The Pack selected as the best one wins the prize.

Rules: As always, you must
1. visit this blog site (duh),
2. click on the Google ad in the right column,
3. click "Back" to come back to this page from the ad, and
4. enter your list as a "Comment." (If you don't know how to use the "Comment" feature, let me know and I'll send instructions.)
5. You should sign on as a "Follower" of this blog, but that is not mandatory.

Remember, I can monitor when you sign in and click the ads, so you don't have to do anything special. Also, you DO NOT have to purchase anything in the ad; just click to go to the ad page and then click back.

That's it! Here is the list of items prohibited within the ticketed areas for the swearing-in ceremony:

Prohibited ItemsProhibited items include, but are not limited to:
Firearms and ammunition (either real or simulated) Explosives of any kind (including fireworks) Knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length) Mace and/or pepper spray Sticks or poles Pockets or hand tools, such as “Leatherman” Packages Backpacks Large bags Duffel bags Suitcases Thermoses Coolers Strollers Umbrellas Laser pointers Signs Posters Animals (other than service animals) Alcoholic beverages
Other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion of the security screeners