Presidential inauguration Shelby group returning for celebration

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Swearing in of Obama draws attention of public, educators

By Lisa King

The excitement in Evette Beasley’s voice took on a reverent tone as she recalled her trek to the nation’s capitol four years ago to witness the historic swearing in of America’s first African-American president.

“It was breathtaking, just unbelievable, to see all those people, people of all colors, races and nationalities, millions of them, all there to see such an historic event,” she said.

Beasley, a Shelby County resident who is retired from Kentucky State University, said when she organized a bus trip to Washington D.C., for that historic inauguration, she never imagined that she would be doing the same thing four years later.

“I am happy for him, I really am,” she said of President Barack Obama. “I don’t know if this will happen again in my lifetime, but at least I can say that I was there, and will be again.”

She and other Shelby Countians and surrounding counties will be leaving by charter bus from the parking lot of the Shelbyville Walmart tonight, carrying 40 people from Shelby, Franklin County, Louisville, Lexington and Georgetown, to the 57th inauguration of the President of the United States.

Beasley said she is pleased with Shelby’s turnout of 10 people, even though it was twice that number last trip.

“We had an even number with people from Frankfort then,” she said.

An estimated 2 million people attended the 2009 presidential inauguration, and D.C.’s metro planners say they are expecting a crowd of 500,000 to 800,000 to flock to the national’s capitol this weekend to witness Obama take the oath of office for the second time on Monday.


Holiday a plus

Velisha Cardwell of Shelbyville said she is going on the trip to show her support for Obama.

“His first inauguration was more historic, but this one is very important, too, because it shows that there is still hope and people still have faith in him,” Cardwell said.

She said things fell into place better for her than it did last time, because this inauguration falls on Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday, she doesn’t have to worry about missing work.

 “I am very excited, but I’m a little nervous, too, because I don’t do well on long drives,” she said. “But this is something I have to do, to show my support for the president, to show that race or color is not important. We all need to come together.”

Beasley said she had a very good vantage point from which to watch the inauguration in 2009, but this time, because she didn’t get tickets, she will be watching along with the crowd on large screens set up along the National Mall as the president is sworn in on the steps of the capitol.

Following the oath of office, the president will deliver his inaugural address, setting out his vision for America and his goals for the nation.


Teaching tool

That speech is of particular interest to teachers, including Phil Bell, who teaches government classes at Collins High School. Bell said he plans to record the speech to show to his students.

“We’ll analyze it for points the president makes and issues he wants to touch upon,” Bell said. “The inaugural speech is very important, because you’re seeing what the president feels he needs to lay out for his administration and then you can go back later to look at how those issues were addressed and if something arose within the administration that may have changed what the major issues were.”


Lots to do

Artavia Acklin, assistant principal at Simpsonville Elementary School, is also journeying to D.C. for the event, but she isn’t part of Beasley’s group, electing instead to drive up with friends.

“I am really excited about it,” she said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime.”

Beasley said that she is also really looking forward to the inaugural parade, which will include members from all branches of the armed forces, a tradition the military has participated in since 1789. During the 10-day inaugural period, from Jan. 15 to Jan. 24, armed forces personnel will provide ceremonial support with musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons.

A week of festivities will include the swearing in, the address, an inaugural parade and numerous balls and galas. The official theme for the 2013 inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future,” marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the capitol dome in 1863.

After the parade, Beasley said the group plans to do some sightseeing before boarding the bus for home.

Beasley said she plans to pack plenty of warm clothing for the trip, as temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-30s with a chance of rain.

“Last weekend it was fifty-eight degrees, and I said, ‘Lord, you gave us good weather on the wrong weekend,’” Beasley said with a chuckle. “But I’ll take whatever he gives us and be satisfied.”