January 23, 2009
Ambassador Prince attends presidential inauguration

On Tuesday 20th January, just about two million people braved the biting cold and turned up in Washington DC to witness the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.{{more}}

In attendance at the swearing in ceremony at the nation’s Capitol was St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ambassador to the United States, H.E. La Celia Prince. According to Ambassador Prince, the streets were thronged with masses of people just wanting take in a live view of history being made as Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States. From her seat on the platform on the steps of the Capitol where the ceremony took place, Ambassador Prince tells that there were masses of people stretching from the Capitol, all the way down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, a distance of some 2.5 miles. Until this Presidential Inauguration, the largest event to have been hosted in Washington was the Million-Man March organised in 1995 by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Never before in American history had there been so much interest, enthusiasm or crowd attendance at a Presidential Inauguration.

Even the frigid, biting weather was no deterrent for the crowd as they chanted in anticipation for Barack Obama to enter the platform. President Obama is said to have taken his oath of office on the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln, a former President also from the State of Illinois and whose life and presidency Barack Obama has publicly praised and admired. Among those witnessing the ceremony were Obama’s grandmother and half-brother visiting from Kenya. Also witnessing the ceremony were former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the man from whom Obama took the baton, George W. Bush.

In his inauguration speech, President Obama reminded Americans of the greatness of their nation and the reality of the American dream. He spoke of the greatness of a nation wherein the son of an immigrant student from Kenya and who was raised by a single mother could rise to become the first African-American President of the United States. President Obama spoke of the challenges facing the nation-the economic meltdown, fighting two wars abroad, nationwide job-losses – as issues that his administration will have to tackle early in order to restore security of Americans. He called on his compatriots to embrace the diversity of their nation, noting that there is more that binds Americans together than keeps them apart. At the end of the President’s 18-minute speech, he was received with rousing applause and cheers of jubilation as Americans welcomed their new President, heralding a new era of hope and change for America and for the world.

The inauguration of Barack Obama was a highly celebrated affair in Washington and was commemorated with hundreds of Balls, parties, concerts and activities which began on Friday 16th. According to Ambassador Prince, these activities also offered a unique opportunity to meet many key persons coming to Washington to celebrate Barack Obama. Among those she made contact with were Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes, a Vincentian by parentage and who is eager to start cooperation initiatives with Ambassador Prince and the Embassy for the benefit of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Ambassador also took the time to meet and greet President Bill Clinton; Obama-supporter George Soros and Professor Cornell West of Princeton University.

Ambassador Prince rounded off the official Inauguration activities by attending the President’s Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on Wednesday 21st, where the President and Vice-President were offered up in prayer by officials representing various faiths and denominations.