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Crowded around the Jumbotrons on the Mall

January 20, 2009 |  8:52 am

Mike Conklin of Pennsylvania covers himself in an American flagas he waits for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on the National Mall January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON -- Gil Hawkins Jr., 51, of New Haven, Conn., was about as far from the swearing-in as you can get on the Mall, about two miles from the Capitol at the Lincoln Memorial, and his view of the Jumbotron was partially obstructed.

Still, he wasn't moving from his spot. It was here, he said, where his aunt participated in the March on Washington and where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke.

"I felt it was my duty to come back and represent the family," he said, wearing a hat that read, "I was there, Obama inauguration."

The Mall, by the way, has plenty of open areas. But everyone's just crowded around the Jumbotrons.

Nearby, sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Sonny Wells, 65, of Louisville, Ky., could barely see the giant TV.

"I don't need to see it. I can hear it. I can feel the good feeling of being here," said Wells, an African American. "We got someone in our corner for a change."

Seated nearby, Myrna Mitchell, an African American from New York, said, "It's the greatest experience I think I'm going to experience in life."

Asked why they decided to perch at the Lincoln Memorial, her friend Veron Thompson, also of New York City, said, "We walked around so much this morning, we were glad to sit anywhere."

-- Richard Simon

Photo: Mike Conklin of Pennsylvania covers himself in a U.S. flag as he waits for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

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