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If I were a good reporter, I would have taken advantage of living so close to our nation’s capital and been one of the millions of people to witness the swearing in of the 44th president of the United States.

Gathering my rowdy brood together for the inauguration, squeezing onto the overcrowded Metro and somehow facing the cold temperatures would have been worth all the effort and frozen fingers. We would, after all, have been witnessing history in the making.

And I would have had enough stories to fill this column until the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, I wimped out and watched it on TV.

Did I mention how cold it was?

Twelve years ago, I endured frigid temperatures for a much less important event, the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

When I was in college, I was willing to camp out in the cold for almost any occasion. I waited in line for many icy hours to get Billy Joel tickets once, and I’m not even a big fan!

Back then, the sheer excitement of being part of the crowd was almost as much fun as the event itself.

Ironically, my college roommate happens to also live close to Washington. Like me, she was more than willing to wrap up in five layers of clothes if necessary to keep warm during the long wait to get Tar Heel basketball tickets.

And like me, she was warm and toasty while she watched the inauguration from her suburban home. I know this because she told me in an e-mail she sent that morning while her kids watched Nickelodeon in her basement.

My kids were playing on their Nintendo Wii in our own basement at the time. Like me, she forced them to watch history unfold on live television, whether they wanted to or not.

As I watched the former presidents and their wives takes their places, I wondered, "Will my grandkids make fun of me someday for staying home on the big day?" Probably.

It will be up to my younger, more hardy friends to tell me what it was like to be a part of the mass of humanity that converged on the Mall in Washington.

The only one who told me she would definitely be there is from the much colder state of New Jersey. For all I know, people from states that far north could have a layer of fur on their feet to make them impervious to the cold.

I do know that a much younger Pam would not have missed the chance to see a new president being sworn in just 11 miles north of her front door.

One thing we did have at our house was our own fireworks display. Jimmy took full advantage of the fact that local law enforcement was focused on keeping this part of the country from slipping into a state of partying chaos at noon on January 20.

He set off rockets and firecrackers and all sorts of explosive devices that can only be purchased across the state line. It didn’t seem to matter to him that his favorite presidential candidate wasn’t being sworn in.

Ron came home early that day to report an occurrence almost as historic as the swearing in of President Obama: he had driven up a traffic-free Interstate-95 from Quantico.

Everyone, it seemed, was somewhere watching the ceremony, whether in person or via one of the many other ways offered by today’s technology.

Nothing could keep a nation as glorious as this one from celebrating such a fine day.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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