Inauguration: People travel from all over for celebration

Photo: Brad Bell/WJLA

Every four years, America throws itself a grand party to celebrate its grand experiment in democracy. This year America did it again in a peaceful and orderly way, as Senator Lamar Alexander said, "No mob, no coup, no insurrection, a moment when millions stop and watch."

Otis Lofton was among the thousands who traveled to Washington to watch President Obama take the oath of office for a second time.

“It’s very important to us because we understand that we need to make changes in Washington, D.C. and the only way we can do that is by moving forward,” the school teacher says.

Peter Hart says their vote for president is the most intensely personal political statement that Americans ever make.

Crystan Limerick hasn’t attended an inauguration since Nixon’s, but she and friend Karla Bower felt compelled to drive up from the Shenandoah Valley for this one.

“I think he has exceeded all expectations, given the economy and everything else he’s had to deal with,” she says.

Despite the extremely tight security and the suffocating crush of crowds, nobody seemed to be on edge and the good will was overwhelming.

For many African Americans, this was an intensely personal inauguration. Purvis, Miss. school teacher Sventalna Lucas saved her money for four years to make this trip with her 10-year-old son.

“It’s important to me to be able to share this experience with my son who’s ten because he needs to see that this is a black man, he’s a role model, and he, too, can have this American dream like Barack Obama,” says Lucas.

A high school teacher from Tennessee joined so many others in crossing over history’s doorstep Monday.

“I made the journey four years ago and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be coming back this time,” says Elaine Johnson.

Hundreds of thousands walked past the gaze of our nation’s icons to witness the inauguration of President Obama, but Joshua Williams had to stop at one particular monument on his trip from Detroit to D.C.

“This to me is just breathtaking,” he says.

Williams never imagined on the day the country honors civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday he would celebrate the re-election of the country’s first black president.

“I just look at the beautiful waters and the statues and Abraham Lincoln, what we fought for, what we came from, it’s just awesome,” he says.

Corey Harris drove 23 hours from Houston for his grandmother Sarah Jones. Her dream was to vote for Barack Obama on her 100th birthday, which happened to be on Election Day.

“That following week she had a heart attack and she died,” he says. “But she was so at peace because this is what she wanted.”

Some came to complete a promise – some to be inspired – and others to simply appreciate how far America has come.