Surprisingly, the 6:35 a.m. AirTran flight from BTV to Balt-Wash Airport was only two-thirds filled. Not as much VT traffic to the inauguration on a cheapo flight as I had imagined.
But downtown DC is aswarm with celebrants, soldiers in camo, and hawkers of inaugural kitsch. I've been to many demonstrations here, including some of the biggies during the Vietnam war, but I've never seen Washington as crowded as it is today. Though it's impossible to estimate with any real accuracy, it looks like African-Americans account for about half of the throng on the National Mall.
"Yes, we did," an Obama t-shirt peddler is chanting to passers-by as I write. Pride is palpable on many faces. All the Obama paraphernalia isn't needed to convey the dramatic shift in mood among rank-and-file Americans.
Esther Iverem, an African-American writer, echoed that sentiment: "I'm not into hero worship, but It's like a weight is being lifted off us. It's like the end of the Dark Ages."
And here's Jim Doughtery, a Sierra Club leader: "I don't think this would be possible in 95 percent of countries. So many people around the world have been looking askance at the United States for the last eight years, but now they're looking at us in amazement."
Yes, we did.