Watching Monday's inauguration of President Barack Obama brought back memories of being there 20 years ago.
I had twinges of envy of the experiences of Courtney Spradlin, who is covering this inauguration for us in a superb, multimedia way.
I covered President Bill Clinton's first inauguration for the Log Cabin in 1992. Different era, different technology, different culture.
But some things were strikingly the same.
Particularly, a celebration of America and our government.
I remember in two separate reports in two publications, Rex Nelson, like myself, who has reported both in the world of sports and politics, both of us comparing an inauguration to a big bowl game: Parties involving celebrities, souvenirs, enthusiasm, lots of crowds and talk of optimism leading to a big event.
To this day, one of the most moving scenes I have ever experienced occurred while I was seated for the official ceremony. Heading down Pennsylvania Avenue was a motorcade of limousines transporting Bill Clinton, the new president; George H.W. Bush, the outgoing president; and almost all of the leaders of our government of both parties to the ceremony. As the band played "Battle Hymn of the Republic," I witnessed firsthand a peaceful transfer of power, distinguished by ballots not bullets. The leadership of our government changed with a song and a little bit of gasoline.
I saw "We the People" in motion.
About an hour later, I saw former President Bush's leave in a helicopter to the next stage of his life, one in which he and Clinton eventually became close friends.
Inaugurations are a day to illuminate the essence of America, the goodness that tugs at our hearts and our souls.
I saw it in that motorcade. And I'll admit to tears.
Fittingly, I pondered part of the verse from "America," sung at inaugurations, "Ring from all the trees, sweet freedom's song."