Students take part in history

  • On Tuesday afternoon Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
  • Several Marquette students and faculty members had the opportunity to witness this historic event firsthand.
  • Many of these students contributed to the Obama campaign last year.

From about 11 to 11:30 a.m. Milwaukee time on Tuesday, the country all but came to a standstill as Barack Obama was officially sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

On Marquette's campus, students in the Weasler Auditorium took a break from their daily routine to witness, what many consider to be, the most anticipated presidential inauguration of our time.

However, there were a handful of Marquette students who didn't need to rely on television to witness this historic event.

That's because they saw it in person, along with the millions gathered in Washington's National Mall.

Molly Ryan, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, spent the last five days in Washington, D.C. She volunteered as the events coordinator for the Obama campaign on campus in the fall.

Ryan attended the inauguration ceremony with Kalyn Gigot, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. Gigot said she supported the Obama campaign by going door-to-door in her hometown of Appleton, Wis.

Ryan and Gigot were two of a select number of people in attendance who had tickets, guaranteeing them a place to stand close to the Capitol Building.

"We actually didn't know we were going to have (the tickets) until we arrived in D.C. on Friday," said Ryan, who received the tickets from a relative.

But even with their places in the crowd guaranteed, Ryan and Gigot made sure they arrived to the event early.

"We got up at 3 a.m., hopped on the 4 o'clock train and then we waited outside from 5 until the gates opened at 8," Gigot said.

Benjamin Juarez, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said because he didn't have a ticket, he arrived at the Mall before daybreak to make sure he would have a spot.

"At 12:30 everyone in the crowd was just doing their best to try and stay warm. Some people looked like they weren't going to make it," Juarez said. "But once the sun came out, everything started to look up again."

But, Juarez said, waiting for hours on end in the bitter cold was a small price to pay for the opportunity to experience history firsthand.

"Being there at the inauguration, especially the moment right after Obama swore the oath and Sen. (Diane) Feinstein first introduced him as President Barack Obama, was just monumental," Juarez said. "I looked around the crowd and saw people of so many different backgrounds celebrating together and being happy for their country all at the same time."

Andy Brodzeller, a university media relations specialist, said he also noticed the significance of that particular moment in the inauguration process.

"Right after he took his oath, and before he gave his speech, the people's applause and energy was amazing. It was like one huge sigh of relief the crowd could finally give off now that he was elected and officially sworn in to office," Brodzeller said.

Brodzeller was in the standing area behind the seats on the Capitol Building's lawn, about 200 yards away from the podium.

As for Obama's highly anticipated inaugural address, Brodzeller said he thought the president's speech was both inspiring and well-balanced.

"He admitted that the country, as a whole, is not where we want it to be right now, but he balanced this observation with words of optimism and hope," Brodzeller said.

More than two months ago, Ryan was in Chicago's Grant Park cheering on Obama the night he was elected to office. But there was a slightly different feeling in the crowd Tuesday when Obama was sworn in as president, Ryan said.

"Grant Park was filled with a lot more excitement," Ryan said. "This was more of a feeling of anticipation. Like, 'Let's see it now. Let's see what you can do. We're ready.' "

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