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January 22, 2009

ULM student joins throngs at Tuesday’s historic inaugural event

As over 1.6 million poured into the National Mall before dawn on Tuesday, one University of Louisiana at Monroe student made her way with extended family from Maryland, all eager to participate in Tuesday’s history-making Presidential Inauguration.

Jasmyne Pugh, 20, a junior political science major from Mobile, Ala., listened intently to President Barack Obama’s oath from a tiny spot on the Lincoln Memorial, as she and others gazed at the new president’s image on a jumbo-sized monitor stationed nearby.

“Oh man, it was amazing ... For us to be in such a space as we were and among all of these people. It was such an awesome feeling to witness this historic event,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands of people packed the Mall, which stretches 2 miles from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial on the Potomac River and along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Pugh, who serves as president of the College Democrats at ULM, said she couldn’t wait to tell fellow Democrats in Louisiana about the experience.

She also said she was looking forward to the day when she could tell her grandchildren that hers was among the sea of faces flooding the Mall to witness the first African-American president take the oath of office.

Not that participation in the event was a complete breeze – Pugh and her family had to endure bitterly cold temps and a trek back to Maryland Tuesday afternoon that took four times as long as it normally should.

Still, Pugh said she wouldn’t have missed the opportunity for the world.

“Everybody was . . . so caught up in the moment. Now we have something to look forward to,” she said. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”

At least five ULM students attempting to join the throngs were deflected by the jammed transit system, where officials estimated some 410,000 people had boarded by mid-morning.

ULM Student Government Association President Micah Pulliam returned to his hotel near the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and joined others who had to watch Obama take the oath on television.

Joining him were SGA Vice President Max Antony, SGA Treasurer Ernest Finch, SGA Secretary Hannah Livingston, and SGA Senator and Dept. Head for Campus Projects Haley Chop.

Back on the ULM campus, Chelsey Rider, 18, and Nicholas Roberie, 18, both of Ville Platte, watched the historic event as part of their speech class. They and about 25 of their peers watched the inauguration with several faculty members in the library

The two then headed to Schulze Cafeteria for lunch, taking their place near a large screen television where coverage continued for the rest of the day’s festivities.

Tuesday’s inauguration was the largest-ever gathering in the nation's capital.

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