Charles Avent Jr. and his sister, Mary Avent, said they will never forget the experience of attending the inauguration ceremony.
“Seeing things in person that you hear about from the news and media was awesome,” said Mary Avent, who works for Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
To get there, the siblings flew to Atlanta, then to Baltimore, and were driven to the nation’s capitol by a driver.
“As we were getting dropped off at the hotel, (former U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell was in his SUV with Secret Service leaving the hotel,” Charles Avent said. “That was a heck of a way to start the trip.”
Even though the weather was cold and the place was crowded, the Avents said they had a great time.
“The whole avenue was amazing, from when (Obama) and Vice President Joe Biden both took their oath, to the performances by Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson,” Charles Avent said. “It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and you had the first African-American president being sworn in for his second term, so it was a big monumental moment in American history.”
The inauguration’s theme was “Faith in America’s Future,” recalling the completion of the U.S. Capitol Dome in 1863 and the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation.
Millions around the world watched as Obama was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, of the U.S. Supreme Court. While being sworn in, Obama placed his left hand on Bibles owned by King and Lincoln.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it,” Obama told the crowd on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol.
The crowd, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, listened intently to Obama’s 18-minute speech as he addressed his future plans and spoke on gun violence and other concerns, including immigration and gay rights.
However, his tone was a confident and uplifting one, according to the siblings.
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience,” Charles Avent said. “A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless.”
Along with witnessing the historic occasion, Mary Avent said she was pleased to see so many people from different cultures and races in one location to witness history together.
“When were standing out there, we were surrounded by people all over the world,” she said. “I met people from California, Oregon, Texas – everywhere. Regardless of your political views, it was a moment in history that everyone should have been able to take part of. I even ran into local friends from Middle Tennessee. Everything about the experience was awesome.”
There were other surprises in store for the Avents as well.
There were many unique items for sale everywhere, including Obama incense, T-shirts and even condoms.
On their flight back home, they discovered pastor Shirley Caesar was also on the plane heading to the 28th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards.
At the airport, they saw rhythm and blues singer Mario running through the airport.
“It was a once in a lifetime trip,” Charles Avent said. “It was awesome to be a part of U.S. history.”