Like many people, Charles Cammack Jr. watched President Obama’s second inauguration on television.
Unlike most observers, Cammack attended Monday’s ceremony. He, wife Michelle and 16-year-old son David stood on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near a large screen relaying Obama’s swearing-in a half-mile away outside the Capitol.
The family had arrived five hours earlier and waited in line for a couple of hours to pass through a security check. They spent the day on their feet.
Charles Cammack, 58, chief operations officer for Fort Wayne Community Schools, said being part of the event was well worth the time and effort.
“I would encourage everyone to go at least once,” he said about presidential inaugurations in general. “It just makes a difference to see the Capitol, to see all the dignitaries, to see the crowds and hear people cheer, to be at the seat of government and look around at all of the buildings and the memorials. … It’s an affirmation of what our country stands for.”
Part of the appeal is being in a huge and diverse but like-minded crowd.
“Congeniality, camaraderie – it’s a sense of community, of country. All kinds of people from every place,” Cammack said.
What does he hope his teenage son took away from the experience?
“He shouldn’t limit his aspirations,” the elder Cammack said. “I never thought that I would live to see a president who was African-American. He should appreciate the fact that this is a pretty special place to live, this country is. Although it has its flaws, it’s a pretty special place to live.”
Obama’s inauguration coming on the holiday to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. made the occasion more memorable, Cammack said.
The only hiccup came when his family got in a line for the inauguration parade route instead of for the National Mall (“It wasn’t clearly marked,” he said.). They and others who made the same mistake had to walk several blocks to another entrance, but everybody was cordial and cooperative, Cammack said.
Attending an inauguration provides “a better perspective on it” than viewing a broadcast at home or work, Cammack said.
“As the president and other speakers said, it’s watching government work out the guidelines and principles that were espoused when the country was founded,” he said.
Being there “cements the fact this is a democratic republic that entrusts its leaders to work together,” Cammack said. “ … To elect the president, inaugurate him and give him the authority to lead the nation, to see that in person is pretty special.”