If the lines at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport are too long today, Cynthia Russell might just be able to float home. The Newberry, Fla., builder is still pretty much walking on air after attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Russell was the first of 10 people selected by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to receive free tickets to the inauguration, based on an essay she wrote on why the inauguration was important to her.
"It was just fabulous," Russell told BuilderOnline.com this afternoon as she waited for a car to take her to the airport for her return flight to Florida. "Everyone has a story to tell about some connection to Obama and why they feel the way they do. Everyone has been bitten by the Obama bug, and it feels good. It feels right. It will be a letdown to go back home."
Russell's itinerary for the trip included attending the free "We are One" opening ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, a dinner with Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden on Monday night, and the swearing-in ceremony and the Neighborhood Ball on Tuesday. It was her first trip to Washington, D.C.; she has been writing about the experience on her blog, Cyndi the Builder.
What stood out most to her from the experience, she says, was "the attitude of every person in Washington we've come in contact with. I've never seen people so happy and full of joy and celebrating. … The people are all so nice and friendly and up and happy. The whole town is like this. There's a thread that binds us all; it's like supporting a football team. We're all on the same team supporting this guy."
While the world seems to have extraordinarily high expectations of the new president, Russell says his inaugural address made it clear to her that "all Americans have to pitch in and do something. We can't sit back and say, 'You solve all our problems.'"
She took that message to heart.
"It's time to get back to work now," she says. "It's time to start working on the housing industry."
Pat Curry is senior editor, marketing at BUILDER magazine.