Amid the hundreds of thousands of people chanting, singing and waving flags at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration were two Tucker Creek Middle School students from Havelock.
“I could barely hear,” said 13-year-old Ashley Walton. “It’s crazy, just coming from Havelock it’s a lot of people and I’m not used to that.”
Despite the loud and large crowd, friend and fellow student Jaimee Wishon was glad to attend.
“It’s really fun.” She said from Washington, D.C. “It’s really crowded and not at all like Havelock.”
JoAnna Wishon, of Havelock, Jaimee’s mother, brought the two teens plus Wishon’s mother, Linda Meadows, and a friend, Joyce Carthen, both of Goldsboro, to the nation’s capital to see Monday’s inauguration.
JoAnna Wishon said the crowd was so large that the group could get only as close to the inauguration as the Washington Monument and viewed Obama’s inauguration and speech on a large television screen set up at the site.
Afterward, they made their way to Pennsylvania Avenue to watch the inaugural parade.
“People are in the street chanting,” JoAnna Wishon said, describing the scene in Washington. “There’s like a big train in the middle of the crowd. They’re just dancing, and it’s overwhelming, but in a good way. It’s just packed, wall to wall people, people singing. It’s amazing.”
Walton also enjoyed the scene.
“I like all the emotion that everybody has. I love it,” she said. “It’s really cool being able to come here and see all the history and the town and seeing Obama being able to go back in office. Everybody’s happy and cheering.”
Jaimee Wishon put the experience at the top of her list of the most exciting things she’s ever done.
“This is like number one. This is pretty awesome,” she said. “They’re all really happy and everybody is like singing and excited. It’s really cool.”
Though having fun, they all agreed that walking through the large crowd to get around was the toughest part of the trip.
As part of the trip, the group visited the Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian’s Natural History and American History museums.
“We’re working on a project in language arts on memorials and we get extra credit if we bring in something of us by the memorial,” Jaimee Wishon said.
She said she wished her classmates in Havelock could have had the experience she had.
“I think it’s important because if other people don’t experience it, they don’t understand how everything works,” she said. “It’s the heart of America. They need to know how everything works.”
Her mother said making the trip was important for the girls.
“I’m not sure that the education kids get today stresses the importance of this. They don’t understand how it all fits together,” she said. “Sometimes it means walking in the streets and seeing it for themselves. Breathing it, seeing it and touching it makes it real.”
Going to the inauguration was especially meaningful to JoAnna Wishon, who had worked for Obama’s campaigns.
“I worked both campaigns. My daughter even helped this last one,” she said. “It was gratifying seeing how all the pieces fell into place. It’s just a huge relief and a celebration.”
Jaimee Wishon said one aspect of the president’s speech sank in.
“I remember him talking about how everyone is equal,” Jaimee said.
JoAnna Wishon appreciated President Obama’s speech, too.
“I think they were very timely and words we needed to hear them with the challenges we face now and in the future,” she said. “It was what we needed to hear. I was inspired.”