Ask Eric Anderson of the Pembroke Telephone Company about the driving force behind his family's trip to the Presidential Inauguration and he will tell you it was his 10-year-old daughter Hannah.
"She woke us up at 5 a.m. to go vote, and again at 5 a.m. to find out who won," Anderson said at the Pembroke Library Feb. 24 as a guest of Friends of the Library. "Our 13 year-old Patrick, however, couldn't care less," he laughed.
He said Hannah was totally wrapped up in the election from the beginning, and even predicted Barack Obama would be the winner. So, when Obama won, Anderson said, he and his wife JoAnna felt they had to make the effort to get to D.C. for the historic event.
"Hannah watched every debate from the beginning," he said. "She wanted to watch everything to do with the election."
As luck would have it, JoAnna ran into Congressman Jack Kingston at a Savannah coffee shop. He promised to try to get tickets for the four of them.
Kingston came through, and JoAnna had family in the D.C. area offering them a place to stay, Anderson said.
"It all just came together," he said.
The location of their tickets had them closer to the stage than they expected, but thanks to some "security glitches" and "the purple tunnel of doom" that had masses of people at a standstill for five hours in a pedestrian tunnel under the Mall area in freezing temperatures, they never made it to their intended destination, despite rising at 3 a.m. to get started.
"1.5 million people were there," he said. "There were some issues, and we got caught up in those issues. The security level hits you right in the face when you see it. There were walls of security fence everywhere."
Anderson said the security and snipers on top of every building was probably the only thing about the trip that impressed Patrick, 13.
Instead of staying jammed in with "thousands upon thousands of people" all waiting to get into the same broken purple gate, they decided to make their way to Kingston's office to watch it on TV, Anderson said.
At 11:15 a.m. they were in front of the capital building amidst the rows and rows of buses on their way to Kingston's office, he said, when the roar of the crowed rolled over them "like a massive thunderstorm."
"That was the pinnacle, when I realized just how many people were there," Anderson said.
Kingston's office was closed when they reached it, he said, and they were in a near panic about where they were going to watch the event they spent 10 hours in a car to see.
Then Texas Congressman Chett Edwards came to their rescue and invited the family to his office down the hall, Anderson said, where they watched the inauguration with about 30 people "who were all excited to be there."
They discovered, also, that the window of Edwards' office looked out over the stage and the sea of people, Anderson said.
"We were warm, and we had a window to the inauguration," he said. "We hit some obstacles during the trip, but managed to find our way around them."
"With the view we had, and the people around us, it was almost like we were sitting down there, but we were warm and inside," Anderson said.
"The cannons shook the building after the inauguration," he said.
One particular thing Anderson noted was how nice everyone was.
"Everyone wanted to talk," he said. "And, at the metro, we met some of Obama's former neighbors from Chicago, Il."
"It was a historic event," Anderson said. "There were people from California, Washington, Illinois, everywhere."
He said the diversity of people and the nature of the event taught the children about transition of power and that different political parties and sides are okay because in the end we are all people.
"Changing power in a peaceful way is something many countries can't do," Anderson said. "We witnessed a piece of history. This is something that will stand out and last."
He said they still talk about it and love the fact they were able to go.
"It's an experience and definitely and undertaking, but we're thinking about trying to do it again," he said.
In honor of Anderson's photo presentation about his family's trip, FOL President Marsha Clark said a children's book would be donated to the library.