Something is afoot in Washington DC. The town is buzzing in a way that transports me deep into the pages of a Tolstoy epic. Although not nearly as stunning in architecture and geography, I picture DC as St. Petersburg during the Napoleonic Wars and the great balls held at the Winter Palace. I can see the soldiers in green uniform and the women in Empire dresses, both poised for gallantry and yearning for courtship and dancing. I can hear the mindless chatter of the commoners and the cultivated gossip of the social climbers. I can feel the bustle of the court staff and the anticipation of the ball pageantry at the Tsarist court - all of St. Petersburg would have been charged with the candlelight of a thousand souls yearning for excitement, greatness, and intrigue.
It is the same in Washington DC as Obama ascends to the presidency. Inaugural committees furiously prepare festivities, FedEx couriers feverishly distribute ball invitations, women nervously fret over their ball gowns, and men secretly worry over political appointments and cabinet positions. All await January 20th as a day of amazing anticipation and spectacle - the swearing-in of a new president and the celebration of any number of inauguration balls.
Thanks to my wife's impeccable timing and connections, we received tickets to one of the ten official inauguration balls at which President Obama will make a grand appearance. Naturally, I am excited - but not to meet the newly sworn-in president. I am more excited to partake in an historic series of events and a public mood that hearken back to the pomp and circumstance of such past eras. When black tie was the norm, and ladies presented themselves formally to society. When civilty was the norm, and people across the land celebrated for a cause larger than themselves. When epoch-making was the norm, and achieving greatness was a badge of honor and not a disgraceful pursuit.
Regardless of reason for public captivation with Barack Obama's inauguration (Race? Bush? History? Change?), I look forward to his coronation day as a chance to enjoy a brief dalliance with the rituals of prior generations. And with less than a week to inauguration, let the anticipation build and the countdown begin.