Union Station a Momentous Ground Zero for Friends, Relatives

WASHINGTON — They traveled from as far away as Canada to the north and Texas to the south, arriving at Washington’s Union Station to witness a historic chapter in U.S. and world history.

Not only was Barack Obama unifying a divided country socially and politically, he also brought together people who otherwise said they had no reason to be in the District.

For two college students from opposite ends of the country, Sean Kennedy and Ashleigh Packard, the inauguration was the perfect opportunity to reunite.

“We met here three years ago for a youth policies conference,” Kennedy said. “She’s from Texas and I am from Connecticut, so we planned a trip that would allow for us to see the whole East Coast and end with us being together for the inauguration.”

For many, being able to witness an African American sworn into the highest position in the United States is immeasurable.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a country that only 60 years ago denied our rights as citizens in this country,” said Danny Boyenton of Georgia. “And to swear in a man of color says a lot for the race relations in this country and gives me hope for the future.”

Even though Boyenton was unable to set up his vending business on the mall like he had initially planned, he was undaunted, even though his hotel was outside the District. Boyenton was in high spirits and said he would not have missed this opportunity for anything in the world.

Other travelers, like cousins Faith Harpe of Gaithersburg, Md., and Sandra Ford of Philadelphia, said they had a responsibility to witness such a historic event, just as their aunt witnessed the Rev. Martin Luther King decades earlier. The two said they were continuing the family legacy of participating in historic moments in African-American history.

Harper said it was a one-time event “and to be living it and not doing it, well….”