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Washington Journal: 'A new way forward'

Academy of the Canyons kids make pilgrimage to witness history

Posted: January 20, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A jubilant crowd on the National Mall celebrates as Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America.

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Editor's note: Thirteenth in an exclusive series as Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Santa Clarita Valley residents battled crowds and security glitches to catch glimpses of the inauguration Tuesday.

"We finally made it in when they announced Obama and Biden," said Robert Walker, Academy of the Canyons High School teacher.

Academy of the Canyons sent 36 kids and five chaperones cross-country to the inauguration. The group left their hotel at 5 a.m. Tuesday to make it inside the gates by 9 a.m., Walker said.

But a sea of people stood between the kids and the National Mall where they were ticketed to watch. The group stood in line for more than three hours.

"We didn't get through until someone broke down the gates," Walker said.

Angered inauguration-goers with tickets in hands grew frustrated as temperatures dipped and the inauguration drew near.

"Security was awful," Walker said. "There were no directions and no sense of organization."

When the gates came crashing down, the crowd stampeded forward. The AOC students did their best to keep up.

"At one point I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get through," said Ashley Martin, a 17-year-old AOC student from Saugus.

Danielle and Dwayne Cooper never made it into the inauguration.

"We had tickets, but we were turned away," Dwayne Cooper said.

The couple brought their three children to the inauguration, hoping to share a special moment with their three daughters, she said.

The Coopers heard Obama's speech blast from loudspeakers throughout Washington, D.C., but never saw the speech.

"It was worth bringing our daughters to the inauguration to see this and be part of history," Dwayne Cooper said.

For all the danger Martin overcame to get inside the inauguration, she also said it was worth the trouble.
"It was amazing. I started crying," she said.

"I asked all my kids, and each one said the trip was worth it," Walker said.

The Obama speech centered on what Americans can do to bring about the change he often referred to in his campaign. He also made reference to the civil rights movement and its part in making his presidency possible. "The dream is no longer a possibility - it's a probability," Cooper said, referring to Obama carrying the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

Old and young, black and white exchanged hugs and adoration after Obama's speech. Young African-Americans took to thanking older African-Americans for their sacrifice during the struggle for civil rights.

"The mood was great despite the chaos," said Stacie DeBerry of Valencia.

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