Bay City Well Represented at Barack Obama Inauguration in D.C.
January 22, 2009
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Baird was on assignment for MyTriCityNews.com to cover the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. This is his report.)
By: Tom Baird
This formal shot is of three Bay City couples attending the Michigan Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. (L to R) Amy Neitzke, County Commissioner Kim Coonan, Nadine Christenson, Thomas Baird, Judy Brunner and Bay City Mayor Charles Brunner.
The City of Bay City was well represented at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. on January 20th, 2009. The historic event saw the first African/American President sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
The week long Inauguration celebration brought millions of people to Washington D.C. unlike it has never seen before. All in all, the District of Columbia was up to the task.
At least five couples from the Bay City area made the 625 mile trek to our nation's capital via some very snowy and icy conditions to witness the ceremonies. Mayor Charlie and Judy Brunner, former Mayor Mike and Sandy Buda, County Commissioner Kim Coonan and guest Amy Nietzke, County Commissioner Don and Mrs. Tilley and former City Commissioner Thomas Baird and guest Nadine Christenson all were in Washington D.C. for the four days of Celebration for Barack Obama.
The delegation from Bay City engaged in various activities over the several days including sight seeing at all of the attractions in the Capitol. Visits to the Arlington National Cemetery, The Vietnam Veterans, World War II, Lincoln, Jefferson Memorials were some of the highlights for a few of the first time visitors. The White House, the Capitol and even Union Station was a place that the guests had to swing by and see in person. The talk of all was the number of people that were coming into town for the Inauguration. Everywhere one would go, there were lengthy lines and most everyone was forced to stand in line to get basically anything accomplished.
Governor Jennifer Granholm has a picture taken with Bay City residents Judy Brunner and Nadine Christenson at the Michigan Congressional reception after talking with the women
All of the group from Bay City secured tickets through Congressman Dale Kildee and U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Tickets had to be picked up on Monday at their offices and once again standing in some long lines was required. Both Mayors Brunner and Buda along with Commissioner Coonan and Tom Baird attended a reception held by Governor Jennifer Granholm at the Library of Congress. Mayor Brunner was even able to hold court with the Governor for a couple of minutes to share his concerns about the direction of the State and even the nation's economy. Mayor Brunner said "It was a good opportunity to tell the Governor directly about the concerns of the residents of Bay City."
Commissioner Kim Coonan and Tom Baird spoke with Wayne State University trustee Debbie Dingell, also the chairwoman of the Michigan Inaugural Ball. They bent her ear about concerns of the retirees in the State of Michigan. They asked her to relay their thoughts and concerns to her husband John Dingell (D-Dearborn) the longest serving member in Congress in history. Commissioner Coonan stated, "We need to keep reminding the members of Congress that retirees (that worked for years and years to earn health care benefits upon retirement) can't just have benefits ripped away from them."
Mayor Mike and Sandy Buda were attending their 3rd Presidential Inaugural kept busy by attending several different functions that they were invited to. With hotel rooms at a premium, the Budas were forced to stay about 50 miles outside of the Capitol. This was similar to the others from Bay City who made the trek Washington. Mayor Buda spoke on "How it is always good to speak to our representatives in the Federal and State levels to share with them the issues that are facing us here back in Bay City." Sandy Buda was busy during the 4 days preparing for the Inauguration by picking up souvenirs for her grandchildren and getting ready for the Michigan Inaugural Ball that was being held at the National Museum of American History.
When the big day arrived, it took a lot of patience and strategy to map out on how to tackle the day. All of the Bay City delegation was up by 2:00am to prepare to be on the road for getting to the Inauguration of Barack Obama at 12:00 noon on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. With the drive to the Metro station, parking, walking, waiting, standing in lines, moving through security just to find a place on the Mall in front of the Capitol. This was to witness a rare moment in history along with 2 million other Americans in person. First time Washington visitor Nadine Christenson was a little overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of people that were coming into town. Nadine said "This is a historical moment in our country and I'm very excited to be a part of it." Nadine added that "It has taken alot to get to this spot directly behind the reflecting pond however I'm thrilled to be here."
Ceremonies began at at 10:00am with music and the seating of all the guests on the Inauguration platform. The Program began right on schedule at 11:30am. Following the Invocation by Dr. Rick Warren and a musical selection by Detroit's own Aretha Franklin, the ball was rolling. Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in and the excitement continued to rise for the President to be sworn in. Braving very chilly conditions on a beautiful sunny Washington D.C. day, the Chief Justice of the U.S. was ready to begin.
Bay City residents meeting Congressman Bart Stupak who represents part of Bay County. (L to R) Former Mayor Mike Buda, Nadine Christenson, Sandy Buda, Congressman Stupak, Judy Brunner and Bay City Mayor Charles Brunner.
It seemed that about every other person in the crowd was taking pictures as the Ceremonies and history was unfolding before their eyes. As you might know by now that the Chief Justice recited the oath a little incorrectly but straightened it out to swear in Barack Obama. The 2 million plus people along the entire length of the National Mall roared their approval. Big Screen monitors were set up all along the Mall for the masses to view. County Commissioner Kim Coonan said "This President has his work cut for him and it will take years for him to help re-start this economy."
The Inaugural Address followed with Barack Obama writing his own speech. He delivered the 19 minute address to the largest crowd in the National Mall's history. Nadine Christenson from Bay City stated that "The President has challenged the American public to step up and assist the President in getting America going again."
Then the masses started exiting the Mall which created a logistic nightmare for the assembled security forces safeguarding Washington D.C. during the Inaugural activities. Metro stations were either closed, overwhelmed or going through security checks which kept people walking around the entire District of Columbia. This tested many people's patience throughout the afternoon. The Inaugural Parade started a little late for the 300,000 plus spectators that stayed downtown to witness more history.
After the parade, it was time for the Bay City delegation to regroup and prepare for the evening. Arrangements had to be made for a staging area to get into the evening formal-wear. The Ladies with the Bay City group had to get hair done, make-up put on and evening dresses put on. The men all slipped into their Tuxedo's and were off to the Metro station again to travel over to the Museum of America History.
The Michigan Inaugural Ball was for 3,000 Michigan Democrats who were there to celebrate the Inauguration of the new President. The evening included dinner, desert and drinks until midnight. The evening was spent taking photographs with guests and political figures who were attending the Ball. The music was spectacular and one could take as much time as they wanted touring the Museum looking at the different exhibits through out.
Everyone in the Bay City group agreed that the visit (to Washington, DC) was taxing at times. But overall, they all felt that this journey to our nation's capitol Washington D.C. was worth the time and effort. Next on the agenda was the long trip home and then it would be time to rest up a bit and then go back to our normal lives.