A Chilling Experience
March 14, 2013
By: Kristian Diggs
Guest Writer, Tampa Bay
Pivotal moments in one’s life are rare and worth sharing whenever they make an appearance. With that being said, the 2012 Presidential election year allowed me to participate in a series of events that I will forever refer to as a chilling experience. On November 6, 2012, it was time for the country to elect a president. Fortunately, I was able to help voters complete this task. Furthermore, I was able to see the voting results between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama come to full fruition. I stood on the Mall of Washington and witnessed history as President Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Unites States of America, gave his second Inaugural Speech. I will attempt to summarize the extravagant feelings that overwhelmed my being throughout this process.
It all started with an opportunity presented to me by my fellow classmates, Mao Lee, Celene Delice,and Anthony Preston. They invited me to tag along and volunteer with the Voter Protection Hotline at the Florida headquarters in Ybor City. Because I understand voting to be a very important part of our governmental structure here in the United States of America, anytime there is a need for my help I consider it a duty to perform.The Hotline enabled the Statewide Voter Protection operation to speak directly to voters and help them deal with voting issues they were having in real time. Mao, Celene, Preston, and I provided Florida voters with a wide range of advice from directions to the nearest poll to simply reminding them that early voting was an available option. We rendered our services to the headquarters up until 7 p.m. Central Standard time zone, the ending hour to all Florida votes on Election Day. Upon leaving the building that night, it was safe to say we all felt a since of pride to be of such assistance to our country.
Later, after many days of weighing the risks and benefits of missing a Torts and Civil Procedure lecture, I decided the benefits outweighed the risks and I could see Washington D.C. in my near future. Hoping both Professor Sutton and Professor McDonald would understand, my flight was booked, bags were packed, and I was leaving the Sunshine State to endure what brought forth a new interpretation of the word cold.
January 21, 2013, the day of the 57th Presidential Inauguration, finally came. The adventurous day begin at 4:00 a.m. In anticipation of the rumored 20 degree weather, my attire consisted of 3 layers of clothing, a cold weather mask, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, hand warmers, and feet warmers. I had a hard time maneuvering, but I was ready to take on Washington D.C. and the cold weather that stood between me and the Inauguration.
o avoid as much traffic as possible, my family and I strategically stayed in Clinton, Maryland and chose to utilize what I call “Metro Mayhem”. Being from Alabama, the southern belle that I am, it was my first time riding the subway styled rapid transit system. For security purposes all streets within a 3 mile radius of the U.S. Capitol was blocked, so we figured the Metrorail was the quickest way to get to our destination.After thirty minutes and about 4 stops, we were in downtown Washington D.C. Before surfacing from the underground Metro tracks, I could not fathom the vision of 1 million people gathered in one place at the same time traveling in the same direction. It was the ultimate symbol of unity. There were people everywhere my eyes reached walking to get a spot on the National Mall to witness this great event. No longer could you pick up your feet and extend your leg in full stride; instead, there was only enough space to scoot your feet forward. A normal 5 minute walk from the Metro station to the National Mall on this particular day took roughly thirty minutes to complete.
Now, standing on the National Mall and taking in the sight of a million people waiting for President Obama to take the stage, triggered my mind to reflect back to the Voter Protection Hotline headquarters in Tampa.
I wondered had an individual in the crowd before me phoned in for me or on of the other’s help on election Day. I was too excited to be a part of something so great and I’m more than sure the smile plastered across my face exemplified just that. My excitement was equivalent to a kid’s on Christmas morning. Even though the cold weather lingered, it was a background factor. The presence and body temperature of the people was a shield blocking the wind chill the entire time we awaited.There is power in numbers and it was indeed an electrifying current amongst the people that day in Washington. When President Obama finally took the stage, the entire crowd created a roaring sea of American flags and a thunderous chant of three letters: “U-S-A!”
That very moment was one I will cherish for eternity. It is a special feeling when people of different nationalities and backgrounds can get on one accord and together celebrate a single occasion. That moment brought chills to my body and the 20 degree weather of Washington D.C. was not the chilling factor. I can honestly say the 57th Presidential Inauguration was a chilling experience.