Change And Challenge: Witnessing History

Avery Jordan, 10, was so determined to attend the inauguration ceremony he wrote to his congressman for tickets. The fifth grader flew from Oklahoma to Washington by himself and scored seats in the VIP section with his cousin. CBS

Everyone of the estimated 1.8 million to 2 million people in the crowd in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2009, has a story about why they had to make the journey for Inauguration Day and why it was so important for each of them to witness this moment in history.

Avery Jordan, 10, was so determined to attend the inauguration ceremony he wrote to his congressman for tickets.

The fifth grader flew from Oklahoma to Washington by himself and scored seats in the VIP section with his cousin.

What does he think the election of Barack Obama says to young people like himself?

"Wow. I can do anything that I will set my mind to, no matter what color of my skin," he tells CBS News Senior National Correspondent Byron Pitts. "I can do this. I will do this."

"Barack Obama helped you believe that?" Pitts asks. "Yes," Avery replies.

Maura Sullivan flew to the nation's capital from Boston on the eve of the inauguration. The Harvard University graduate student also happened to serve in Fallujah as a captain in the Marine Corps.

"I think he'll make a great commander in chief," she says. "He never served a day in uniform -- that doesn't bother me. I think he possesses the judgment, the integrity and the other character traits that I saw in military commanders that I served for in the Marine Corps. And those leadership characteristics will serve him well in the Oval Office."

Edith Childs, 60, is a councilwoman from Greenwood, S.C., who got up at 4 a.m. on the eve of the inauguration and rode a bus for 9 hours with 30 others from her hometown just to witness history.

"There will be no inauguration without me being there," she states with pride.

Childs grew up in the segregated South and says she never thought she'd live long enough to see this day.

"I said, 'Society's not ready for a white woman and sure ain't ready for no black man.' That was my opinion," she says.

That is until she heard Obama speak. "That was all I needed -- to hear him. I was sold after that."

Childs became famous when her chant at a small rally in her hometown -- "Fired up, ready to go" -- became Obama's signature slogan.

"It goes to show you how one voice can change a room. And if one voice can change a room, it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change the world," Barack Obama said of the rally cry.

It doesn't matter to the people who journeyed to the the nation's capital that the new president was just a speck in the distance or that it was freezing cold or that they stood crammed together for hours. Most are just feeling thankful to be part of this moment in history.

Sullivan says race did not factor in her decision to vote for Obama.

"However, I don't think one can -- at least I can't -- detach myself from the historical significance of this day," she adds. "I'm really proud to be an American. We did a good thing."

"I will think about all those folk that lost their lives for this moment," Childs laments. "When I think about it, I get real teary on the inside just knowing that the time has come. And that the change is gonna be better for all of us."

  • CBSNews

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