Standing in the shadow of history, two Lorain County residents said this year’s presidential inauguration reminded them of why America continues to be the country they love.
“We get it right every four years regardless of who is in office,” said Jeanine Donaldson, executive director of the Elyria YWCA.
Donaldson, and husband, Larry, attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, as well as that of former President George W. Bush. The pilgrimage to the nation’s capitol every four years has become a tradition for the couple.
“For me, it’s a sign of patriotism,” she said. “I think our country is wonderful and I want to be apart of its rituals.”
Donaldson said the perfect example of America’s freedoms was found just steps from the Capitol. There was a loud anti-abortion protester perched high in a tree with a sign that read “Pray to End Abortion.”
“When you juxtapose that against (civil rights activist) Myrlie Evers-Williams giving the invocation and President Obama giving his address, you think, ‘Only in America can you do that,’ ” she said. “It was incredibly rude of him, but no one disturbed him and we just let him do his thing. That kind of freedom is worth fighting for every day for all of us — independents, Democrats and Republicans.”
Elyria Councilman Marcus Madison, who worked on the campaign locally in 2012, said being in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration has been a life-changing experience for him. He arrived Friday, spent Saturday working with children and visiting patients at a local Veterans Affairs hospital, and Sunday attended a Rock the Vote event for the young people who worked to motivate more young adults to vote.
But Monday he arrived for the inauguration and was in awe of the day’s event.
“I had a chance to sit on the Capitol steps,” he said. “It was a very humbling and overwhelming feeling. It reminded me of when I first went to Washington, D.C., when I was 17 for the inauguration of George W. Bush. This experience sort of brought me back there and how that was the moment I knew I wanted to get involved locally with public service.”
Before returning to Elyria, Madison said he will have a chance to visit the White House with a group of Obama supporters who helped with the campaign over the course of the election. He said he feels he will return more fired up about serving the 5th Ward and Elyria.
“This has been another life-changing moment for me, a moment of reflection about public service and the impact people can make when they work together,” he said.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.