By Ginger Livingston
Monday, January 21, 2013
Greenville residents are among the hundreds of thousands gathering in Washington D.C. to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration and they are among the volunteers making the event happen.
Greg Hedgepeth, 28, his wife Amy and three friends arrived in the nation’s capital Wednesday to begin their volunteer training. The Hedgepeths will serve as ushers during today’s festivities, guiding people to their locations on the Capitol grounds.
“Anyone with an official inauguration ticket we will be meeting and greeting with the Capitol Police” to begin security measures, Hedgepeth said.
The volunteers’ training took place in the Senate office building, he said. It was amazing to realize they were in a room where senators had gathered to make decisions that affected the nation, he said.
“Being in that room (Wednesday), to see all the logistics and work that has been put into this was amazing,” said Hedgepeth, who is senior web developer at East Carolina University. “The opportunity to meet a mayor of a (major) city or a governor, that’s amazing.”
Hedgepeth said he volunteered because he wanted to continue his active support of Obama which began when he volunteered with the president’s North Carolina campaign.
“It became an humbling experience to see how much work goes into (a campaign) and how much it relies on ordinary people like myself,” Hedgepeth said.
When he received an email asking for volunteers, Hedgepeth said he and his wife didn’t hesitate to give up a few days of work and travel to D.C. at their own expense.
“For me, it’s the experience, to be able to say you had a hand in the inauguration. To say you were part of that experience is a humbling opportunity.”
President Obama took office at a critical time in the nation’s history, Hedgepeth said. As an African-American male, Hedgepeth said he’s proud that another African-American male was able to strive and succeed and become the nation’s commander in chief.
The weekend isn’t all work, Hedgepeth said. The couple and their friends plan to spend most of their time touring the city and participating in other inaugural events.
Local Democratic activist Akilah Ensley has tickets to six inaugural weekend events along with today’s swearing in ceremony.
“I missed the first inauguration (in 2009) because I was working for the federal government in North Carolina at the time so I’m quite excited about being able to experience it this time around,” said Ensley, who served as a delegate during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“This campaign was such a draining experience, it was a hard-fought battle but the rewards were definitely worth the battle,” she said. “I’m excited to be here, to be part of this process and to know I’ll be standing among hundreds of thousands of people taking it all in.”
Ensley got tickets for the gold zone, a standing room only section on the Capitol grounds, which puts her much closer to the ceremony than people who’ll be on the National Mall.
Ensley secured her ticket from U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s office.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that about 250,000 tickets were made available to members of Congress and other government officials. The Post reported that while the exact number of tickets given to each member of Congress wasn’t public, it appears everyone received a couple of hundred.
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones’ office reported Friday that all his tickets were gone.
Along with the swearing in ceremony, Ensley plans to attend the official Inaugural Ball, a mixer sponsored by the Young Democrats of America and several other balls and events.
“I want to take in the entire experience. It’s going to be a great networking opportunity and a chance to see old friends and meet new ones,” she said.
Contact Ginger Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9570.
via The Daily Reflector.