Biloxi students share memories of historic inauguration

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A group of Biloxi students went to Washington D.C. filled with high expectations about seeing the inauguration of our country's first African American president. On Thursday, they came home, filled with memorable stories about their moment in history.

"It was cold!"

Those were the first words out of the mouths of the excited teenagers.

"It is life changing. It was one of the best experiences in my life," one student said.

The 20 weary Biloxi High students showed off their souvenirs. One girl wore a t-shirt that read "I love D.C." Another girl held up a button with a picture of President Barack Obama.

"Five dollars, but it was worth it," she said.

"It was amazing to see all the American flags wave around as the inauguration was going on," said one student.

"It was amazing to see so many different types of people, different races, different religions, just come together and celebrate that one day and that one moment, and that was really beautiful to me," another student said.

They waited nine hours in the National Mall, and stood about a mile away from the inauguration stage. It didn't matter because they were so eager to catch a glimpse of their new president.

"It was magical. Magical. It really was. You can't really describe it," said Biloxi High Sophomore Casey Bell.

When asked about their most memorable moments, one girl said, "Seeing his speech. I really liked his speech. And just being there."

Her friend added, "And hearing his voice live and not having to hear it on TV. It was really amazing."

Speaking of voice, Courtney Gray screamed so much, she actually lost hers.

"But it was all worth it, because I saw Obama and Michelle," Courtney said with a squeaky whisper.

The journey was especially memorable for Gabrielle Hartwell. The Biloxi High senior went door-to-door, raising the $1,500 needed to pay for the trip.

"It was so worth it. Even through the cold weather," said Gabrielle. "I'm glad I went and I'm glad I raised all that money, because I really had fun and everything, and it was the best trip ever."

After three days in D.C., the students were happy to be home and felt grateful for the chance to finally thaw out.

"It's hard to put into words. It was an experience that I think they're going to remember the rest of their lives," said Government teacher Todd Boucher.

"When years to come, when people are like, 'Oh my gosh, Obama was president,' we can say, 'Yeah, we were there,'" said one young lady.

Because of the large crowd that day and tight security, the students did not get to watch the parade. However, they did get to attend a student ball before the inaugural festivities and tour various historical sites afterwards.