It's never too early to get a civics lesson

5½-year-old Aubrey Black attends President Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Monday

bmorem@thetribunenews.comJanuary 21, 2013 

Chances are better than good that a significant event in a young person’s life will help set the agenda for that youngster’s future course. Such might be the case for Aubrey Black.

At 5½ years old (the half is very important to her), the Atascadero girl, along with her mom and dad, Whitney and Cory Black, traveled to Washington, D.C., to witness President Obama’s inauguration for his second term.

The Blacks corresponded with me via email Monday to share their excitement and Aubrey’s grand adventure. In turn, I share this with you:

Aubrey’s trip began early Saturday with a drive to San Francisco International Airport. While on the road, here were some of Aubrey’s observations:

• 8:13 a.m.: “I’m tired and I miss brother,” who, as a 2-year-old, had been left with his grandma at home.

• 9:56 a.m.: The classic traveling child comment, “Are we there yet, how much longer?”

• 10:26 a.m.: A quick stop for fast food, with Aubrey noting, “Taco Bell, please.”

• 11:22 a.m.: Pulled into long-term parking at SFO.

• 11:39 a.m.: “Yeah, we’re on a bus; brother would be mad if he knew he was missing this.”

• 1:02 p.m.: Ready to board flight.

• 9:26 p.m. EST: Land in Washington, D.C. “Woo-hoo!”

Sunday: Aubrey took her first ride in a subway, Washington’s Metro, which she enjoyed until the cars became stiflingly full of riders.

The first stop was Rep. Lois Capps’ office in the Rayburn Building, where the family picked up the inauguration tickets and had a quick photo op with the congresswoman. Although there were other families from San Luis Obispo County at Capps’ office (also picking up their swearing-in tickets), Aubrey “felt a little nervous” at the number of people jammed into Capps’ office and was quizzical about all of the security measures it took to get inside the building.

“It reminded me of going through the airport. Why do we have to do this again?”

Later, as any cosmopolitan bon vivant has noted, Aubrey observed, “It’s hard to walk around town so much. I love to take cabs.”

Later that evening, Aubrey got her first ride in a pedicab, a bumpy ride down Pennsylvania Avenue, although numerous other streets were closed in preparation for the following day’s parade.

Then it was off to the Italian ambassador’s home for a reception that included Sen. Al Franken and others she didn’t recognize. Then, “I went to dinner at the same place where Jackie O was proposed to.”

The family stayed up late — because of West Coast time differences — then went back to the hotel for a brief sleep.

Early Monday: The family got up at 5 a.m. to travel to the swearing-in ceremony, where Aubrey saw military personnel throughout the streets, lots of people in long lines waiting to get through security and the assembled throng standing cheek-to-jowl awaiting the pomp and circumstance of an enduring American tradition.

With a couple of exceptions, of course.

Aubrey got to see and hear Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson and former President Bill Clinton (her favorite politician) at the ceremonies.

One last note from Aubrey as the swearing-in took place: “It’s really cold, and I’m tired of standing.”

Later Monday morning: After several hours waiting outside with thousands of people, the various choirs started singing at 9:30 a.m. The family joined in the singing of “God Bless America.”

“I feel happy because we get to see the inauguration,” Aubrey said.

Then, as added impromptu entertainment, a protester climbed up a tree, and the crowd watched the authorities try to get him down. He was still in the tree when the crowd emptied.

After the long, crowded walk back to the hotel (no cabs in sight because roads were closed), Aubrey went to get her nails done for the first time, for her first ball.

Will this be a teachable moment for the young Children’s House Montessori student from Atascadero? Will the gravitas buffered by fun be a fulcrum from which her life’s course will be fundamentally enriched?

Only time will tell.

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