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Prineville residents Kim Kambak and Barbara Fontaine attended the 57th Presidential Inauguration last month in Washington D.C.
Kim Kambak (left) and Barbara Fontaine made the journey to Washington D.C. last month to witness the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
January 31, 2013
Two local women were among the 1 million people who traveled to Washington D.C. to witness the 44th President, Barack Obama, at the 57th Presidential Inauguration last month.
For Kim Kambak, this is her third presidential inauguration, and Barbara Fontaine has been to Washington D.C., but hasn’t witnessed an inauguration before.
“It’s such a big thing to participate in,” noted Fontaine. “I had no idea.”
She described the days before the ceremony as a big party. Businesses everywhere participated and had novelty items to commemorate the event. Fontaine went because Kambak wanted someone to go and experience the inauguration with her. Before November 2012, both women participated in voter registration and other events that led up to the election.
“I can’t imagine any other kind of event where that many people get together all with a common vision or common emotion about what is going on,” added Fontaine.
She said that there were people that came from many places. Approximately 1 million people attended the event, and in 2009, there were more than 2 million Americans who attended.
“The reason I go to the inauguration is so that I can have a sense of that energy, I can meet other citizens, and I can be there and witness first-hand, the pomp and circumstance and historical protocol… America feels really strong,” noted Kambak.
This energy is something she doesn’t feel when she watches the ceremony on the news in Prineville, because of the squabbling in the way a news show is cast and formulated, “And it takes the positive energy of the common man out of the equation.”
Before the actual Inauguration, Kambak and Fontaine also spent some time in Washington D.C. at various museums and events. They went to the national cathedral to hear Michael Beschloss, Historian and Vice President for the Foundation for the National Archives in Washington, D.C., speak about presidential and inaugural history. This was actually the 56th inauguration that has taken place in Washington D.C., because the first inauguration of George Washington took place in New York City, N.Y.
Kambak also enjoys seeing the teachers and parents taking groups of students through the Smithsonian and the Capitol.
“That’s really exciting for me, to witness these young people growing up and knowing and understanding what our nation is about.”
According to Kambak, many of the security logistics have also changed from the previous inauguration in 2009.
“This inauguration with security was much different,” she explained. “To enter the mall (in 2009), you had to go through metal detectors, so there was a lot of waiting in line to get into the mall. In 2013, the metal detectors were just in places along the parade route.”
Fontaine however, felt that security was extensive everywhere they went — from the airplane to the security at the museums and the Inauguration parade.
During the ceremony, there was a 10-foot fence that surrounded the steps and stage and areas in close proximity to the President.
“The people that were closest to the steps and stage had to have tickets, so they go through a double-level of security,” recalled Kambak.
She and Fontaine were just beyond this fence, and she said that although they had inclement weather, the temperatures were so frigid in 2009 that she resorted to watching the ceremony from inside a restaurant.
“Four years ago, I sat at a table with African-American women who were school administrators from Detroit,” said Kambak. “That was pretty exciting to be with them to watch the first black president become inaugurated. The thing about this one for me that was different was just that this inauguration wasn’t about skin color, it wasn’t a fluke, it was about the American people really wanting to see a series of programs put into place and to see that occur. That moment felt really positive.
“It’s very stirring to sing the national anthem,” she said. “When you are standing with a million people singing the national anthem, that is powerful in itself. When you are all bowing in prayer together with that many people, and it is silent, that is powerful.”
She said there is no way to get that across when you are sitting on the coach watching the ceremony on television.