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Excitement builds for Inauguration

By Staff | Jan 16, 2009

Obama supporters Monica Larson with her children, from left, Zoe, Daisy and Milo in front of the Shepherdstown Public Library at King and German streets

Every four years Washington welcomes back a familiar face or a brand new family to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Since the time of our first president, the United States has ushered in the inauguration of a new chief executive with much fanfare and pomp.

Tuesday’s inauguration of Sen. Barack Obama is speculated to be the most extraordinary and well attended ceremony in this nation’s history. The entire country is preparing for the inception of a new presidency, and local residents are among those reacting to all the excitement.

Some are more excited than others, however. Dustin Hartness, a 25-year-old conservative Republican who resides in Frederick, Md., voted for McCain in 2008 and has no plans to watch the inauguration at all. Hartness is openly unenthusiastic about the impending Obama presidency. “I’m terrified,” he said, noting that he has actually never watched or personally attended any presidential inauguration before. “It’s more or less just a ceremony,” he said. “What is important is the vote and election.”

Bethany Tremblay, a 22-year-old Shepherdstown resident is among those most excited for this new era in presidential politics. Tremblay is a lifelong Democrat who proudly sports a donkey pin on her coat lapel – an heirloom, passed down to her by her great-grandmother who collected the tiny golden Democratic mascots and helped instill democratic principles in her grand-daughter.

Tremblay considers the election of Obama a highlight in American history, one in which she is glad to have participated.

“Yes, I did vote for Obama …for a number of reasons, the most important, to me, were his education plan…” she said, adding Obama’s “hope and change” message as well as his policies shaped her decision to support him. “I also read his book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ before the Democratic primaries and was inspired by what he had to say about the United States. He came off as an upbeat candidate and a breath of fresh air during is a difficult time in America.”

A first semester grad student, Tremblay isn’t free on inauguration day to attend the ceremony in person, but she’s still very excited to catch what she can. “I’ll probably be watching the events on TV at home in between my classes.” She’s satisfied with her plans because as she was one of many who went out to see the president-elect speak on the campaign trail. “My excitement for the 2008 election was being one of the thousands of people at his election eve rally in Manassas … but the crowds of people were a bit overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it will be like in D.C. on Tuesday.”

Monica Larson, a visiting professor at Shepherd University is also “a little nervous” about the crowds. Unlike Tremblay, Larson does plan to attend the Inauguration on Tuesday. Her concern with the crowd is likely sparked by her motherly instincts, as the entire Larson-Levine clan plan to make the journey to Washington for the big day. Larson’s brood includes, her daughters, Zoe and Daisy, ages 13 and 8, and son Milo, age 11.

As Larson explains, the entire family has been busy all year, campaigning for Obama. Youngest daughter Daisy who has lived her entire life under the Bush Administration is very excited to for the family trip to D.C. and Obama’s presidency. She’s proudly sign-waved and canvassed with her family this fall. Oldest daughter Zoe also helped campaign and summed up her enthusiasm for Obama by explaining that, to her, he is “more representative of a younger generation.” Responsible for the Obama jack-o-lanterns along German Street this past Halloween, the Larson-Levines, snapped up their inauguration tickets as soon as the election results were announced in November.

Though Larson has supported other Democratic nominees in the past, she conceded that the election of Barack Obama is particularly special. She said, “There’s been such a long time where politics has been mean… A change for the better, that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Those who cannot attend the inauguration have made plans to watch the ceremony at home or at local bars and restaurants. Inauguration viewing parties are also a popular alternative to see the action in person and many Obama supporters are planning these sorts of events.

Ronald Shank, 24, of Shepherdstown, had hoped to venture out for the inauguration festivities in Washington with his girlfriend, but instead will likely watch it all happen on TV.

His plans were simply sidelined by a dentist appointment that he can’t miss, but Shank is still highly anticipating Obama’s term, saying “I’m excited because he’s young and has a lot of energy.” Shank also understands the groundbreaking nature of the Obama presidency. When asked to explain what an Obama presidency means to America he said, “I think there is symbolic nature, him being the first black president, though that isn’t why I voted for him.” Ronald will probably attend an inauguration-watching party and noted that he knows many people who plan to do the same.