Tagged : Barack Obama

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

On January 20th 2009, two million people, including myself, were in Washington DC to witness one of the most historic US presidential inaugurations ever… The inauguration of Barack Obama. Since it’s been four years, I’ve been thinking about what to write about this truly historic event. Truth to be told, I don’t know.

Maybe a story about the great ‘We Are One’ concert of Bono, Bruce Springsteen and other celebrities will do? Or what about the strategic location I choose to see the inauguration and parade… I could talk about this for hours! No? A horror story about the ‘Purple Gate of Doom’ perhaps? Wait! It’s a party. No horror stories today…

I believe the story of an African American pastor from Chicago is great. While waiting for Obama, he told me about the moment when he met President Bill Clinton (in the 90s). One day, this pastor traveled with Clinton’s motorcade when the president decided to get some fastfood. He directed the entire motorcade to the nearest fastfood chain and used the drive through to order food for everyone… True story.

Or wait, I met this other great guy from New York. He told me about the unprecedented security measures in his nephews office, which is located next to the parade route at Pennsylvania Avenue. Or is it more interesting to tell the story about George W. Bush? I was near the White House when he arrived there for the last time while being president. That was quite something. We (the NY-guy and me) knew that president Bush’ helicopter, Marine One, would land on the South Lawn. But we didn’t expect three identical helicopters. All three approached the White House from the south. But George W. Bush was in just one of these presidential helicopters. I guess these three helicopters did the ultimate (real-life) shell game. It took us until the third helicopter to figure out in which one George Bush travelled. Speaking of people from Texas, our section of the parade route was secured by Texan police officers. How sad is that, being a republican police officer from Texas who’s deployed in the nations capital on that particular day. That’s a true ‘being in the belly of the beast’ situation. But I have to admit… we, including the Texans, had lots of fun together. Which is good, because it was an extremely cold and long wait…

Which leaves us with the last story to be told… which is the inauguration of Obama itself. During those days, the message of hope and change sounded throughout the United States. Everyone hoped for better times, which could easily be seen on the faces of the people attending the inauguration. It simply was unbelievable and something I’ve never seen before. And… the sound of two million people shouting Barack Obama’s name and going wild after he took the oath of office… That was quite something!

Well, I don’t know which story I should pick. But perhaps I don’t have to. Instead, I created a new OneMinute video (see above). It’s the inauguration (and preceding days) in just one minute. Enjoy!

Barack Obama’s motorcade

Exactly four years ago, on January 17th 2009, I was in Washington DC. It’s three days before the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States takes place. An event I was looking forward to for a very long time already. In fact, this trip was planned (and paid for) about four months earlier, in September 2008. Barack Obama and John McCain were still in campaign mode and the election was two months away. At that time, I didn’t realize I was about to experience an historic inauguration. An inauguration attended by two million people in Washington DC and billions (!) more via television.

Anyway, I finally arrived in Washington DC. After a tour inside the US Capitol and a visit to the National Mall, I walked to Lafayette Square, which is a public park in front of the White House. All I wanted was to cross the street and make some pictures of the White House… but a nervous security guard stopped me. He ordered me to wait for a few minutes. It didn’t take that long before a helicopter positioned itself right above us. Also, in the far distance, there was the (increasing) sound of many police cars… It’s the motorcade of Barack Obama! Immediately, I grabbed my camera and shot this video (see above).

Three days later, Obama was sworn in as 44th President of the United States.

Too close to call?

For some reason, every self respecting journalist believes the race between Obama and Romney is very close or maybe even too close to call. But is this really the case?

Some national polls predict Obama will be the winner, some say Romney has the upper hand. And all major news outlets claim these national polls really matter… But it doesn’t take long for the very same news outlets to change their mind and state that national polls don’t matter at all. Why not? Well, obviously it’s all about the twelve swing states, or were there only nine? No wait, there’re just five. How could I be wrong about that!

This means there’s only one fact left… it’s all about Ohio.

Right?!

Nope, that’s not the case either. It turns out Obama has a solid 5% lead in this state.

Most people know it’s virtually impossible for Mitt Romney to get to the needed 270 electoral votes without Ohio. This means… wait for it… I can now officially project Barack Obama to win the 2012 elections and continue to be president of the United States.

1 Obama on poster

November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008. The day America elected Barack Obama as their 44th president. I was lucky being in the United States on this very special day. Today it’s November 4, 2011. It’s exactly three years after these historic elections, which gives me a reason to share some of my photos.

Election Day 2008. My day started like any other day. In the morning I went to Rietveld Architects for ‘just another day at the office’. For me, Election Day started at 3PM. Together with two colleagues I went to Rockefeller Center.

NBC News turned Rockefeller Center into Election Plaza.

As you can see on this picture (above), preparations are almost done.

I didn’t go to Rockefeller to see these preparations at Election Plaza. A Dutch news show would broadcast live from the Rockefeller Center for their election coverage. I was part of the audience (which was really fun because my family in the Netherlands watched it live). They started broadcasting at 4PM (10PM in the Netherlands). Election night began!

Several hours later, the sun already set, I took a photo of this incredible view of St. Patricks Cathedral (photo is taken from the news studio in Rockefeller Center). It was time to go downstairs and visit Election Plaza.

Wow! To my surprise the Rockefeller Center turned red and blue for NBC’s broadcasting. Also the skyscraper featured a running electoral count (you can see the number 270, which is the number of delegates each candidate needs to win the elections).

At the building two carts were pulled up. One for Obama and one for McCain. The carts ended at 270 at which stage the next president would be known.

After Obama won three delegates, I together with several other people decided to go somewhere else. We figured it would be more interesting to experience the elections in Harlem, which is where we went.

We visited an Obama campaign office in Harlem. It’s the same office where I watched several of the presidential debates.

Not much later, we found out thousands of people gathered in front of the Bill Clinton Office (which is situated in Harlem). We decided to go there. On the photo above, you’ll see many camera crews from news networks all around the world. Quickly it became clear our gathering would be broadcasted live in many countries!

Together with thousands of people we watched CNN, who projected Obama as winner in Ohio (which was one of the crucial states).

Shortly after I snapped this photograph, I was interviewed by this guy. I didn’t know who he was. Moments later he gave a speech from the podium, so I figured he must be famous. Several days after the elections I found out he’s famous indeed. He’s a well known comedian and has its own show on CNN. And… his interview with me was broadcasted on CNN! (“Even the Dutch are excited”)

It wouldn’t take long until “Yes We Can” became “Yes We Did”.

NBC projected Obama as winner of the elections. Everyone went crazy!

CNN also projected Obama as winner. John Mc Cain was defeated. Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States.

Just look at the woman in the lower left of this photo. Need I say more?

The atmosphere was euphoric for a very, very long time.

The governor of New York gave an emotional speech.

To conclude these historic elections, Obama gave his victory speech. During his speech, almost everyone was silent (except for some people shouting “Yes We Can”).

After his speech, crowds got bigger. “O-bam-A” and “Yes We Can” echoed everywhere. People were laughing, hugging and cheering. At 125th Street, crowds were pouring in from all directions. Cars cruised slowly east and west, their windows rolled down, passengers hanging out, waving and shouting. After several hours I went back to my apartment in Lower Manhattan. It was an historic night, and I had been part of it.

9/11

Today, ten years ago, two hijacked planes were driven into the towers of the World Trade Center. Killing thousands of people and changing the lives of so many more. Todays remembrance made me think of three years ago.

Back then, my apartment was located on a 10 minutes walk from downtown Manhattan. On the morning of 9/11 2008 I walked to Ground Zero. The thing I remember most is the silence. It was respectfully quiet. Although it had been seven years since the attacks, I could still see tears and despair in the eyes of many people.

In the evening, hours later, I encountered the opposite of despair. I went to Columbia University to see Barack Obama the at the 9/11 Presidential Forum. He was still a candidate back then. By seeing him, sitting in the front seat of his SUV (I wasn’t allowed inside), I realized hope returned for many New Yorkers. Less than two months later, he won the US Presidential Elections which changed the lives of so many ordinary Americans.

Photo description: This is a photo I snapped several hours after I saw Obama. It’s called Tribute in Light. This is an art installation of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center to create two vertical columns of light in remembrance of the September 11 attacks.