Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugurations Past & Present

Lilly tells me she and her class watched the inauguration at school today, and that the introduction of Gabriela Montero, one of the quartet playing the John Williams piece, got some giggles from her peers. And from her. The word "pianist" makes preteens giggle, it seems.

I don't remember if I watched Richard Nixon's second inauguration in 1973. I was about Lilly's age then, and January 20 was a Saturday that year, so I would have been home. January 20, 1977 was a Thursday, and I remember being in second-year high school algebra class at 11 that morning -- but no mention was made of Jimmy Carter's inauguration, or his surprise stroll. When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated the first time, I was on the way somewhere on the VU campus, and stopped at one of the dorms to watch the swearing-in on a common-room TV set. So much for the inaugurations of my youth.

The public inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1985 was on Monday the 21st, coincident with a near-nationwide blast of cold weather something like last week's. It was snowing so hard in Nashville that day that my company sent us home, and I spent the afternoon at a co-worker's house, where we listened to the event on the radio.

Ann finishes kindergarten just after 11 most mornings, and I walk about five minutes to pick her up. I figured I would go right after the oath of office, though that had to wait until John William's music was over. When the oath came, who was it that flubbed his lines? This posting deals wryly with the question ("The good news is that fisticuffs between the Harvard grads did not ensue.") It was an odd moment, and likely to agitate the nation's minuscule cadre of Hawaiian birth-certificate deniers.

I missed most of the inaugural address, but of course heard it later on the radio. Later still, I saw it, and other inaugural addresses, made into cool word clouds.

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