Forty years ago my family and I attended President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. In what seemed an unprecedented event, my siblings and I had January 20th off from school. As a Washington, D.C.-based federal worker, my father also had a holiday. Our family adventure to D.C. started with a drive to the Silver Spring Metro station. Metro had recently opened and my parents wanted us to experience the marvels of public transit. We bundled up in our ski jackets, hats and mittens for the cold weather.
We stood along the parade route and waved. An outsider elected to the presidency, President Carter’s campaign had appealed to the masses. To maintain the common touch, he and his family exited the limos and walked from the Capitol to the White House. I recall our family’s excitement at seeing his brother Billy strolling down Pennsylvania Ave.
Our adventure had only just begun; we had fun the whole day visiting the museums along the Smithsonian Mall. The National Gallery of Art had an exhibit of artifacts from the tomb of King Tut–an exhibit so popular that the long lines compelled parents to pull my classmates from Redland Junior High School mid-week to visit. We strolled up and had barely a wait. Fascinating riches were on display. We next walked to the National Air and Space Museum. The movies were free that day, and we watched on the widescreen a breathtaking journey depicting flights of all kind.
The Carter presidency provided the backdrop to my high school years. It began with my witnessing a simple, yet telling act—walking.
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