BIG DAY: Iowans Watch Up Close and Far Away

Among hundreds of thousands of eyes on the nation’s capitol, some Iowans had quite a few. First District Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat, sat up close to President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, and he nearly wore out his thumb snapping memories. He took pictures of the president and vice president walking into the ceremony. He caught shots of music stars, Beyonce, Jay-Z and James Taylor. He captured intimate moments like the president greeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the president’s daughters waiting for their dad. (He even let us share some in the slideshow below.)

“I must say everybody was in a great mood, even the security guards,” said Brad Anderson over the phone from Washington, D.C. Just saying that is something from Anderson, who had been Obama’s Iowa campaign manager, a key figure in the president’s win in Iowa. Sunday’s snow storm left him stranded for hours at the Des Moines Airport wondering if he would even make it to Washington to enjoy the moment he helped create. Anderson said, “Our first flight got canceled. Then our second flight kept getting delayed and delayed.”

Thirteen hours later, he and his wife, Lisa, finally made it to D.C. Monday, they stood in the crowd and finally got to see their man, at least what they could see of him. Anderson said, “We did catch a glimpse of the back of the president’s head on the jumbotron and people just went nuts.”

It wasn’t a great view, but at least he didn’t have to stare through the portopotties like his former co-worker, Iowa Obama Communications Director Erin Seidler.

Other Iowans could only watch on their televisions. “It was really kind of neat because about 80 people came out on a really cold morning and it was just fun to be able to be in a group of people and watch something like that,” said longtime columnist Chuck Offenburger. He watched the inauguration ceremonies in Jefferson’s newly renovated Sierra Theater. The chance made the day even more historic. Offenburger said this was the first time the theater streamed in an outside event live. But it was also extra meaningful for this Iowa historian to watch an African American’s inauguration on Martin Luther King day. He said, “Certainly shows how this nation has grown through the decades. I just have the feeling there was some healing.”

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