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Ohioans go to D.C. to witness history


For Sarah Campbell of Springfield Twp., it was the second time she had been at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. This time, however, she could actually see what was happening.

Four years ago, she was in the massive crowd that jammed Washington for Obama’s first inaugural, but she could not closer to Capitol Hill than the Washington Monument. This time, because she drew a lucky ticket in a lottery held by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Campbell was at the Reflective Pool near the Capitol.

“It was another moment in history and I was here to enjoy it,’’ Campbell said. “It was great.’’

Campbell was one of many people from Ohio – ranging from fervent Obama supporters to the curious – who flocked to Washington.

“It was awesome,’’ said Katie Harrington, a senior at Dublin Coffman High School in suburban Columbus. It was a really great experience to hear all the different speakers up close and personal instead of TV which is really neat.’’

Like Campbell, Denis Rookard, a self-employed accountant from Columbus, drew a lucky lottery ticket and that put her near the Reflective Pool, saying she “wanted to be part of history.’’

But Rookard had an even more personal reason. Last October, her 103-year-old grandmother – Maurine Shuler of Akron and a strong Obama supporter – died. But just a few months earlier, the president gave Shuler a kiss at a rally in Akron, prompting her to tell her grandchildren it was “the best kiss she ever had in her 103 years.’’

Then there was Willie Adams, 41, of Columbus, who felt lucky when he scored tickets to the swearing-in, but got even luckier when Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, read a news story about Adams’ 2008 trip to the inauguration.

That year, Adams, a courier, drove up to D.C. without tickets and without any heat in his car. He didn’t see much, and when he drove home, he got frost bite on his toes.

After reading about Adams, Stivers offered up two VIP passes in section 11, not far from where Obama gave his inaugural speech.

Adams showed up at about 7 a.m. for the 11:30 event. When he saw where he was sitting he said he was “was really ecstatic.”

“It’s the best experience I could ever hope for,” he said. “Everything was just so wonderful.”

After the swearing-in, Adams loaded up on souvenirs related to the Inauguration. “I’m Obama from head to toe,” he said.

He said during Obama’s second term, “I would like to see him stand firm on the issues that he really believes in,” he said. “I think sometimes he compromised too much on things he really cherished and that meant a lot to him.”

Campbell of Springfield Twp. loved the speech as well, saying Obama “addressed my most passionate issue, which is the environment.’’

Campbell, 54, who works in a gourmet food and wine story, worked as a volunteer for Obama in Hamilton County. She decided to help the president last year because she feared the campaign would be close and she “needed to do whatever I could do for him to stay in office.’’

“This time, I felt like I seriously participated in getting this man another four years,’’ she said.

Two Ohioans — House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., and his wife, Debbie — had two of the best seats on the stage. They were in the front row right behind where Obama gave his inaugural address.

During the inaugural lunch at the Capitol just after the inaugural address, Boehner wished Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “congratulations and Godspeed.”


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