Worthington man enjoys memorable Inauguration DayPresident Barack Obama gave his second inaugural address Jan. 21, speaking of major issues facing the U.S. For Justin Stevenson of Worthington, who had the opportunity to witness the event in person, the words were even stronger.
By: Alyson Buschena, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — “America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”
Hundreds of millions of people around the world listened in their homes as President Barack Obama gave his second inaugural address Jan. 21, speaking of major issues facing the U.S. For Justin Stevenson of Worthington, who had the opportunity to witness the event in person, the words were even stronger.
“His speech was one of the best, I think, and obviously it adds more weight to it when you’re there,” Stevenson said.
“(Obama’s) first inauguration was historical because people were voting for hope and change,” he added. “But I think this inauguration was more historical because after getting beat up every day for four years, he still got elected again.”
Inauguration Day took place on Jan. 21, adding strong symbolic themes to the day’s theme of “Faith in America’s Future.”
“There was the added weight of it being on Martin Luther King Day and a day before the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade,” he said. “It was all these things that coalesced into a monumental day.”
Tickets for inaugurations are only available to the public through members of the House and Senate.
Stevenson submitted a request for tickets and received six from U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who awarded them randomly.
After an 18-hour Amtrak ride from Chicago, Stevenson arrived in Washington, D.C., with his aunt, uncle and two cousins. The contingent had to pick up its inaugural tickets in Washington, as they can’t be shipped for security reasons.
Stevenson and his family got up at 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day to travel from where they spent the night in Maryland to the National Mall. Stevenson said the event felt well-coordinated, even though he and his family had to stand in line for almost five and half hours and passs through multiple security gates.
Each camera was checked to make sure it wasn’t a weapon. At the end of the day, Stevenson said he was surprised to find photos of a stranger’s shoes on his camera.
But the comaraderie that filled the air and the knowledge that everyone in the crowd were about to see history in the making made the wait worth it.
“You’re with people who are all like-minded and excited about the same thing,” Stevenson said.
When Stevenson and his family reached the area indicated on their tickets, they found they were close enough to the platform to see the president.
“There were a million people there and we had to have been within the first 150,000 people,” Stevenson said.
The inauguration ceremony was filled with juxtapositions as historic traditions were placed next to pop culture icons like Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce and James Taylor.
Stevenson, originally from Johnson Creek, Wis., said he wasn’t interested in politics until his junior year of college, when he studied abroad.
Seeing the United States from an outside perspective gave him a new appreciation for politics and made him think, “This is something I should pay attention to,” he said.
As a member of the Directors Committee of the Nobles County DFL, Stevenson is involved in local politics. This past November, he managed Cheryl Avenel-Navara’s election campaign for the Minnesota House District 22B seat.
“I think people support candidates and politicians because they believe in their vision for the future of America, and then you go to something like the inauguration to see the birth of that vision,” he said.
Stevenson first moved to Worthington as part of the AmeriCorps Vista program. He currently works at the former West Elementary building as the Literacy Volunteer Coordinator and at Nobles County Library.
Daily Globe Reporter
Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.