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GCHS freshman Chelsea Cason knew that she was going to witness history, but didn’t imagine what else would come with it.
Cason went to the national Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference and was in Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20. She was in the nation’s capital for the historic event and enjoyed a week full of speakers and exploring the history of the capital.
“We were able to listen to some speakers talk,” Cason said. “It was really interesting. They all spoke about Obama, but they talked about him in so many different ways. One compared Obama to Lincoln. Eric Weihenmayer and Lisa Ling spoke about how you should always take advantage of every opportunity you have. They took their stories and motivated us to do good things also.”
Cason was also able to hear speeches by Al Gore, Desmond Tutu and Colin Powell.
Cason was selected to attend the inauguration after attending the National Young Leaders State Conference in Nashville last year.
During the presidential inauguration, Cason was one of many spectators that packed the streets to see and hear Obama speak.
“It was very cool and really crowded,” Cason said. “It was cool to see how many people believe in him and wanted to see him. People were standing on port-a-potties to see him speak. So many people wanted him to be the president and believe that he will do good. I didn’t even think that I would see him at all. It meant a lot to be there. There were a lot of people there, but there were a lot of people that weren’t. To be one of the few that were there means a lot. I wish I was closer though. I knew I would have a lot of fun and meet a lot of people, but I was nervous.”
Cason also attended an inauguration ball for the conference at the National Air and Space Museum.
One moment that Cason will remember is the speech by Weihenmayer and how he overcame his blindness to climb Mount Everest.
“One of the things I learned from Eric is that even though there may be obstacles in life, you have to overcome them,” Cason said. “Just because he couldn’t see didn’t mean that he would stop. It helps me because if anything is thrown at me in life, I should keep going for my dreams.”
Ling inspired Cason to keep her options available in the future and explore the possibilities that lie ahead of her.
“She traveled the world and saw how different countries lived.” Cason said. “Now I have more options. It opened up more doors for me.”
Cason’s favorite parts were the inauguration, although the crowds were overwhelming, and the ball.
“It was so much fun because we got to see Chris Daughtry and I was right in front,” Cason said. “There was a lot of good food there. I went to dance after I ate, but I couldn’t because I was so full. The museum was cool because we got to look at all the planes.”
When Cason looks back on the trip in the future, she believes that she will remember the speeches and the experience of being in the nation’s capital for Obama’s inauguration.
“I’ll remember being there when Obama was speaking,” Cason said. “I thought about all the people watching on TV and I was actually there. I had to pinch myself. I just can’t believe I was there.”