experienceâ�?�? By Randy Dockendorf
and Shauna Marlette
Yankton Media, Inc. For area residents, Tuesdayâ�?�?s inauguration of President Barack Obama presented a history lesson not found in textbooks. At the Gayville-Volin elementary school, Ronette Karstens gave her third-grade social studies class some background before turning on the television to watch the swearing-in ceremony. They will gain a first-hand recounting of the inauguration when Gayville-Volin staff member Sharon Petrik returns from Washington, DC with her husband, Jim. Karstens compared Obama to one of her favorite presidents, Abraham Lincoln. â�?�?Barack Obamaâ�?�?s theme is â�?�?New Birth of Freedom,â�?�? which is similar to Lincoln,â�? she said. She also noted the intense security measures surrounding Tuesdayâ�?�?s ceremony. The third graders showed their own curiosity, asking questions about what was unfolding on the screen. For some of the young students, they imagined themselves running for high office someday. Korbin Conn said he would like to run for president. If elected, he would like to help the poor and those who have lost their jobs. Wyatt Jorgensen said he was happy to be watching Tuesdayâ�?�?s event by television rather than in person. He noted the huge crowds that waited hours for the inauguration ceremony and a glimpse of Obama. â�?�?You had to stand all night, and you are getting squished. You donâ�?�?t see a lot,â�? Jorgensen said. At The Center in Yankton, senior citizens recalled their own memories of a long line of presidents. For some, todayâ�?�?s ceremony reminded them of previous challenging times in the nationâ�?�?s history. But none compared to the sight of seeing the countryâ�?�?s first black president.? Ronald Crosley found it hard to describe the huge record-setting throng witnessing Tuesdayâ�?�?s ceremony. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s such a time of history, to have a black man elected as president,â�? he said. â�?�?I guess all you got to do is see all the people there â�?�? thatâ�?�?s? history.â�? The Obama inauguration is the most important to date in history, Crosley said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s the most important, primarily because he (Obama) is voting for change,â�? he said. â�?�?The time is right, because weâ�?�?re going broke in this country. Part of it is because of politicians that have led us into being broke. This man (Obama) wants to bring us out (of the current financial crisis).â�? Crosley reflected that Obama strikes a similarity to President Harry Truman. â�?�?(Obama) says what he is going to do, then does it. He has proven it so far,â�? Crosley said. At Mount Marty College, spectators gathered in the Cyber Cafe and the dorms to witness the historic event. In the Whitby Hall lounge, students and staff sat quietly as events played out on the big-screen television. Anthony Blake, an MMC freshman from Omaha, differs politically from Obama but shares the same experience of growing up biracial and in different parts of the country. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s amazing to witness it and be around it,â�? Blake said of the inauguration. â�?�?But for me, itâ�?�?s not just about race.â�? While they share similar backgrounds, Obama and Blake differ on their politics. â�?�?Barack Obama is very liberal, and I am more right wing,â�? Blake said. â�?�?I was more of a supporter for (Republican presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee.â�? Still, Blake said he feels pride as an African-American. Blake said he and other MMC students discussed the impact of Martin Luther King â�?�? who paved the way for Obamaâ�?�?s presidency â�?�? during Mondayâ�?�?s observance of Kingâ�?�?s birthday.? â�?�?In our religion class, we had a discussion of Martin Luther King and black rights,â�? Blake said. As a clinical lab science major, Blake said he was particularly interested in Obamaâ�?�?s plans for the nationâ�?�?s health care. â�?�?That will determine what I do in 10 years,â�? Blake said of his future career. â�?�?Whatever your race or politics, Americans need to work together to face todayâ�?�?s challenges. There will be change, but it will take time,â�? he said. â�?�?We need patience, and the willingness to do it.â�? While most area residents watched the inauguration events unfold on television, other residents witnessed history firsthand in Washington, DC. University of South Dakota students Mike Dailey and Dominique Boudreau joined 5,000 college students from around the nation who were selected to participate in the five-day University Presidential Inauguration Conference. The special program brought them in contact not only with the inauguration but also world leaders in a number of fields. Dailey said he was selected for the program in late 2007, which heightened his interest in the 2008 campaign. â�?�?I didnâ�?�?t know much about Obama. I didnâ�?�?t vote for him. Thatâ�?�?s the running gag, I didnâ�?�?t vote for him but Iâ�?�?m going to his inauguration,â�? said Dailey, a South Sioux City, NE, native. However, that didnâ�?�?t dampen Daileyâ�?�?s enthusiasm for the trip. â�?�?I am super excited,â�? he said before leaving for Washington, DC. â�?�?I donâ�?�?t care if itâ�?�?s the person I didnâ�?�?t vote for. I am excited to go to Washington and see it in person,â�? he said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s historical, not only because of heâ�?�?s the first African-American president, but because of the record crowd thatâ�?�?s going to be there. Itâ�?�?s insane. There is so much excitement out there. Everyone here knows itâ�?�?s going to be giant. Itâ�?�?s going to be great.â�? In preparing for his trip, Dailey had to pack a special accessory. â�?�?The only thing they really said to bring was a black tie tuxedo because we were going to one of the inaugural balls,â�? he said. â�?�?It would be neat it the Obamas were there.â�? Dailey believes the impact of Tuesdayâ�?�?s inauguration will go far beyond the ceremony itself. â�?�?As the future goes on, a lot more barriers will go down,â�? he said. â�?�?I just think itâ�?�?s going to be an amazing event that I will remember for the rest of my life.â�? Boudreau, a Yankton native, had already enjoyed a packed weekend. She enjoyed the humor and insight of political commentators Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, Mary Matalin and James Carville. She also heard Luke Russert, son of the late Meet The Press moderator Tim Russert. She also enjoyed Al Goreâ�?�?s presentation on the environment and James Roosevelt, the grandson of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Boudreau also enjoyed Sundayâ�?�?s concert at the National Mall, which was broadcast on HBO. She listed Queen Latifah as one of her favorite performers in the concert. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s been really awesome. We attended the concert, and you could really feel the energy,â�? Boudreau said. â�?�?America is going through a rough period so far, but everybody is optimistic and really excited.â�? Boudreau and the other students left at 3 a.m. Tuesday for the inauguration at the National Mall, where they expected to be joined by a record crowd and the tightest security in inaugural history. Boudreau said she has supported Obama from the beginning and holds high hopes for his administration. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s going to be a slow transition into something positive, but there will be results in what Obama is going to be doing,â�? she said. â�?�?I think that patience is going to be rewarded with great things.â�? Meanwhile, Yankton Sioux tribal chairman Robert â�?�?Bobbyâ�?�? Cournoyer attended events as part of a national gathering of tribal leaders. While in Washington, he is also attending the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Indian Gaming Association. â�?�?We will talking about health care and other issues, including gaming, while I am there. We will talk about the economy and jobs,â�? he said. Cournoyer holds high hopes for improved American Indian health care, particularly with former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The inauguration brings special meaning not only to blacks but other minorities, Cournoyer said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s the opportunity of a lifetime, being able to witness the inauguration of a man of color. I think we have turned the corner, being able to put a black man in the White House. I think this signals change. What we see in America is becoming more open,â�? he said. The full magnitude of the inaugural experience had not yet hit Cournoyer. â�?�?To be there, itâ�?�?s a momentous occasion. Itâ�?�?s exciting for so many people,â�? he said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.â�?
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