‘You just feel the warmth’


Text size: small | medium | large

By Jim Nolan/Media General News Service
Published: January 21, 2009

WASHINGTON—Betty Reed stood in the bright sunshine on the gently sloping lawn just in front of the Washington Monument, impervious to the cold, willing to wait just a bit longer for a day she thought would never come.

She was a long way from the Capitol and Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln’s Bible, but this close to history.

“It’s not important that I see. It’s important that I hear,” said the 77-year-old grandmother from Pensacola, Fla.

“If you had been through what I had been through in my lifetime .¤.¤. ” she said. “It was something that if I died tomorrow I would not care,” she added. “Because I witnessed something I thought I’d never see. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it.”

Reed said her husband, John Reed Jr., worked for the Democratic Party’s executive committee in Florida for years. He died in 1997.

“My husband worked so hard with Kennedy, and .¤.¤. he didn’t live to see it,” said Reed. “So now, I’m witnessing this for both of us.”

Reed arrived in Washington with friends and family on Sunday. They visited the Lincoln Memorial. And over the last three days, she said she saw history come alive.

“It’s a totally different spirit — it’s phenomenal,” she said. “You just feel the warmth just generating from one person to the other.”

That warmth, Reed is convinced, has a transformative power. And for a while today, the sheer volume of bundled bodies amassed on the National Mall actually seemed to generate a warmth that kept the biting cold and chilly winds in abeyance.

“I feel the love that’s just coming from every part of the world. I just feel it. It’s just been a happy, wonderful feeling I’ve had,” Reed said. “It’s remarkable. It really is.”

Then Reed saw Obama take the oath of office, broadcast on a large color monitor posted just north of the Washington Monument under which she stood.

She was overcome with emotion. Tears streamed freely down her cheeks.

“Yes,” she said simply.

“Yes. Yes.”

Then she broke down, sobbing on a stranger’s shoulder.


Contact Jim Nolan at (804) 649-6061 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Reader Reactions

Posted by ( berniemom ) on January 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm

this is more of something someone sent to me and i would like to be checked out or commented on by the president himself or the white house as too what action will be taken.

By Paul Proctor
January 21, 2009
One of my wife’s friends told her on Tuesday that someone she knew had been renting a house to a single African-American woman for several years. The lady had apparently never missed a payment or even been late with one.
But, for some strange reason, immediately after Barack Obama was elected to office last November, the woman reportedly stopped paying rent. When politely questioned about it, she told her landlord: “We have a new president now and some things are going to change.” He replied: “Well, that’s fine, but you still have to pay your rent,” to which she reiterated: “No, we have a new president now – and some things are going to change.”
From what I understand, the rent has yet to be paid.
Later that same day, while watching ABC News coverage of the inauguration with my wife over lunch, hosts Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer were joined by Donna Brazile, a Democratic African-American author, educator and political activist, who gave a humorous account of her snatching the complementary fleece blanket she found abandoned in Barack Obama’s chair after the swearing-in ceremony. Apparently she wanted a souvenir of the momentous occasion and when the opportunity arose, she took it.
As they all laughed about it, Gibson responded playfully to her candid admission by saying: “We’re going to check with the legal staff and find out if that’s a felony or a misdemeanor.”
Brazile then gave a stern look into the camera and said: “We have a black president – it’s neither.”
My wife and I quickly turned and looked at each other with our mouths open, remembering our friend’s story from earlier that day.
After a couple more light-hearted comments, Brazile realized she needed to revisit her offensive remark for the benefit of stunned viewers and backpedaled with a smile saying: “We have an American president and I believe this [blanket] was given to all of the platform guests…” to which Gibson wrapped up the segment by chuckling nervously: “Donna is backing off a little bit on that one.”

I’m curious though; is there an underlying belief among some African-Americans that since we now have a black president, Obama will be providing them special privileges that somehow supersede the laws of the land rendering them no longer accountable for illegal, immoral or unruly behavior because of their skin color or ethnicity?

Did Obama not call for “a new era of responsibility” in his address to the nation or did he mean a new era of entitlements for people of color?
Is Barack Obama America’s new president or just the new African-American president?
I guess only time will tell.
Related Item:

Report Inappropriate Comment

Posted by ( mbfurbush ) on January 23, 2009 at 1:14 pm


In looking over the Manassas Journal for the 20th and the page layout of all the presidents, I was very disappointed that Barack’s birth state of Hawaii was left out.  I was also very disappointed that no mention that he is our very first African-American President and the fact that he took his oath using Lincoln’s bible.

Unfortunately, because you had listed every other president’s birth state recorded, it appeared to be deliberate that Barack’s birth state was left out.  Some of the information listed was not relevant.

I certainly hope that this will be corrected and reprinted with more homage given to the first African American president.

Thank you very much,

Marilyn Furbush

Report Inappropriate Comment

Post a Comment

The commenting period has ended or commenting has been deactivated for this article.

Tags relating to this article:

  • No tags are associated with this article.

Can't find what you're looking for? Try our quick search:

Email This Print This AddThis Social Bookmark Button RSS Feed Add to My Yahoo!