WASHINGTON, D.C. –
While Langley's Raptors patrolled the skies during the Inauguration, I had an entirely different view from inside the Capitol.
As a member of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, I was stationed just inside the doors to the platform on the west front of the Capitol in an area called the chute. The scene was busy behind the red curtain and the heavy glass doors that led to the platform, with dignitaries walking through every few minutes. I watched as our top military and civilian leadership stepped out in the brisk air to take their seats for the ceremony and reminded myself the world was watching.
My role at AFIC was to help build the script for the swearing-in ceremony. I had spent hours ensuring the timeline accounted for every second that day until the Presidential Oath of Office was complete. With the final copy of the script in hand, I watched history unfold.
I gave President Bush a final salute as he passed by on his way to the platform, and remembered his own sacrifices over the past eight years.
When President Obama came into view, cheers erupted inside the Capitol's halls. But as he waited in the chute to enter the platform the tone became solemn. America's future president was poised, hands folded, but it wasn't until the music began that he allowed himself to smile, step forward and greet the nation.
I left the chute to watch the swearing-in from a window overlooking the platform. It was the first time I took a long look at the immense crowd that had gathered, and I realized again how fortunate I was to be standing just moments before with our past and future leaders.
I also reminded myself of the hundreds of people and thousands of details that went into the success of that day. I thought of my sister, Army Capt. Suzanne Schultz, and all the long hours she worked at the D.C. Armory to prepare her National Guard unit for the day.
There were so many who contributed to making the Inauguration a celebration for America, and as soon as I heard the words "So help me God" I knew my small part was done, but the memory would last forever.