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Tears of Joy, Words of Caution

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

There is just a huge amount of joy and tears in this crowd. I am in an area jampacked with people from all around the country who had been working on the Obama campaign. They had waited since the crack of dawn in really cold weather. We all thought we wouldn't get in. But despite all that, people are totally happy and cooperative with each other.

There are millions of people here and they are all bundled up against the cold so that you can't tell who they are until someone takes off their hoods—and suddenly they are recognized. I am running into people from all over the country that I know.

Tears, joy, caution

Feinstein started things right off by recognizing how historic this was. She didn't just play the role of impassive master of ceremony but got right into the importance of the occasion. People had tears coming down their cheeks. We were watching the proceedings on screen and every time a familiar face appeared people were screaming: "There's Oprah! There's Jay-Z! There's Puff Daddy! What are they doing up there? I can understand Oprah, but Jay-Z?" People just loving what they were seeing.

But, when President Obama spoke, he sought to temper the mood. His address was very somber. He was making it plain that we are in a serious situation globally and economically. That we have huge challenges. It was a very somber, challenging inaugural address.

Cheers and booms

Every time Bush or Cheney showed on screen, all these boos started happening. After all the cheers for other presidents, there was a pretty raucous booing for George W. People started singing, "Sha-na-na-na, Good Bye." A very spirited farewell.

Where I was standing on the west side of the Capitol is where they had the cannons for the salute. Only, we didn't know it. As soon as Obama said, "... so help me, God," the cannons went off right next to us and people screamed. They freaked. They didn't know what had happened. It seemed like a nightmare.

At the green ball

The Green Ball on Monday night was the hot ticket and lots of people who should have had easy access didn't have a ticket. Earthjustice had board members there having a blast. It was a supercharged event about clean energy. There were pep talks from Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. Many politicians came over to establish their credibility.

Riding the Metro back from the ball, lots of people stood on the train talking to each other, taking pictures of each other, of themselves, of just about everything so that they would have memories of this special event.