Anthony Atwood’s Inauguration Journal – Day 5
TUESDAY 06 – JAN09: Reveille Reveille. 0630. My battle buddy, myself, and a couple others walk to the tube together. It is raining and cold. We reach our building, go through security and report. After awhile we are herded outside. The building is a massive granite structure from the era of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A WPA bas-relief of workers is carved above the door. I notice indications the building was built before air conditioning. I estimate it is from 1938; seventy years old. We assemble in the parking lot (most folks take the tube, few AFIC personnel have parking passes). There are about 50 of us in civilian clothes. For the rest of the morning we tour downtown Washington. We are indeed only a few blocks from the Capitol. At the Capitol there are bleachers going up around the balcony where the oath will be administered to the president-elect by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
There are several regulars, also in civies, giving us the tour. This is not abstract courtesy, we are walked around to get an idea where the various aspects of the events of I-Day will occur. We stop on the hill where the saluting battery will be. A battery of cannons will fire a 21-gun salute on I-Day. We pass where helicopters will land, where first aid stations and power hookups and TV crews will be. We follow the route up Constitution Avenue and down Pennsylvania Avenue that the parade will take, culminating in the reviewing stand where the new president will review the troops as they pass. It is raining harder and colder, and we are all wet. In civilian clothes we are just an innocuous tour group taking a guided tour in the rain. Walking the grounds to get the lay of the land for I-Day, we are an unexceptional bunch of tourists distinguished only by short haircuts on the guys, and a polite attentiveness, curious for people strolling about in the freezing rain.
The view is dominated in every direction by the buildings of the American people: The rotunda of the Capitol, the White House, Smithsonian, and the tall weavers beam of the Washington Monument. Stately monuments observe us on every corner: Grant, Hancock the Magnificent, the Lone Sailor, Rochambeau, Lafayette, we are here!
We are silent on the tube home.