Lawton_While more than one-million people watched the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in person at the nation's capitol, in Lawton, some gathered at New Jerusalem Baptist Church to witness the historic moment on television. While many Texomans were at work during the event, it didn't stop those at church from taking a few moments from their day to celebrate the inauguration with family and friends.
The excitement at New Jerusalem Baptist Church was palpable, and the people who came together there knew it was a moment in history they never would forget. Different generations gathered to witness swearing in of the first African-American President of the United States. "I never thought I would live long enough to see this happen," said Addie Smith. "Hooray! Happy day!"
Addie was not alone in her sentiment. "God blessed me quite a few years to see this, not as a black man, but as a man," said watch party host Paul Cooper. "As a country, we never thought - I never thought, I can't speak for everyone - that this would ever happen." Emotions ran high, and some wept. "It has finally came that we are, I feel like now we are part of America, and it doesn't make a difference what color you are," said Helen Waters.
This moment holds a special place in Helen's heart because she grew up during the civil rights movement. "Seeing all the stuff on TV when I was in Alaska...all the fighting, spreading water, and stuff, and seeing Martin Luther King try to give us freedom and say what the dream is..." she said. "Now that I am 55 years old, and I am here to see Afro-American Obama, our 44th President...."
Although today's children cannot connect to this moment in the way other generations can, they still are a part of history - January 20, 2009. "Everybody is all happy," said Cydney McHenry. "We are all texting each other, ‘Black President, Black President.' We are all happy."While today's inauguration will be one for the history books, attendees at the watch party say the fight for America is not over. "This is a beginning," said ---. "I don't think that one man can do it by himself - but we as a people get together - we can make it work." Folks at the watch party said that although they couldn't attend the event in person, they felt as if they were there, and were happy they could share the event with those people who matter to them.