Inauguration Spirit — Trip highlights trump inconvenience in journey to D.C.

Editor’s Note: Pine Bluff Commercial reporter Michael S. Lee traveled on a bus with other Arkansans to see President Barack Obama sworn in Monday at his second inauguration in Washington D.C.

The large group of Arkansans that experienced the inauguration of President Barack Obama this week displayed a remarkable spirit of togetherness that outlasted several temporary setbacks.

The participants ranged in age from a third-grade girl from Nashville, Tenn., on the trip with her parents to quite a few retirees all coming together to witness their president sworn in for a second term.

The group encountered tests of their collective patience along the way, including time waiting for stragglers to return to the buses and cold weather. But throughout it all, a collective spirit of optimism uplifted the more than 300 Arkansans who made their way the 34 miles from their hotels in northern Virginia to the National Mall in the cold predawn hours of Inauguration Day.

Despite the enormous lines that all had to be waited in to pass through security to enter the Mall, the anticipation of what was to come buoyed spirits.

It was cold and sore feet were the order of the day, but as the ceremony began and large video monitors set up throughout the area suddenly filled with images of the first family arriving at the Capitol, all discomforts and inconveniences were seemingly forgotten and a crowd of hundreds of thousands of inaugural attendees erupted into raucous cheers and applause — including a band of happy and grateful Arkansans.