Volunteering at the Lincoln Memorial Inaugural Opening Ceremony

January 24, 2009

Now that I’m thawed out and fully recovered from the excitement of last weekend,  I can share my first-person account of being a part of the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

At volunteer training, held in the Washington, DC convention center, I and about 6,000 other volunteers learned about our general duties and responsibilities, then went into break-out sessions to learn more detailed information about our inaugural-volunteervarious roles.  I was assigned to work the media work tent at the Inaugural Opening Ceremony on Sunday, January 18 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, January 17, the volunteers working in the press area reported to the site to meet the Opening Ceremony staffers and team captains for a run-through.  

On Sunday morning, we met even earlier to go through the press area security check-point and begin our appointed task of staffing the media work tent for the duration of the Opening Ceremony and concert.   The tent was heated (hallelujah!) and equipped with hardline internet access, electricity and phone lines for members of the press to file their stories, charge their camera batteries, etc.  Refreshments were available, and when word spread that the tent was heated and stocked with food and hot coffee, the tent became quite a popular place for  the journalists and camera crews to stop by and warm up.

Due to the number of volunteers working at the Opening Ceremony, we were lucky enough to see parts of the Opening Ceremony in one-hour shifts.  I watched the first half of the ceremony from a very plum spot, close to the bandstand, thanks to the generosity of a very kind HBO rep.  I loved watching the performances and speakers, but the most thrilling moment was looking behind me and seeing the throng of people that stretched all the way back to the Washington Memorial!

Volunteering for the Opening Ceremony was a fantastic experience.  It was rewarding to be with friendly, dedicated, bright people, all of us working as a team, doing our part to represent our new President in one of the most historic inaugurations in our country’s history.