Community comes together at OUP

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009

PROCTORVILLE — It wasn’t the cold of the Washington, D.C. Beltway that Lettie Aiken braved, just the blustery winter wind of Proctorville, Ohio.

But brave it she did and happily so.

There was no question to anyone watching her that Aiken may not have been with President Barack Obama in person, but her spirit was right there beside him. Clapping. Crying. Shouting. Praying.

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Sometimes she stood with her camera phone held up high at the Commons Room at Ohio University Proctorville photographing the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Other times she just stood too overcome even to video the moment.

“It’s so overwhelming and awesome,” Aiken said. “I’m proud.”

The audience was few, only 20 or so, students and community who came to the center for a viewing party the university sponsored, but just by being there they did more than watch history. They became a part of it. Throughout the almost hour-long ceremony there were shouts of amen, applause and cheers.

Several joined Dr. Rick Warren who gave the morning’s invocation when he spoke the Lord’s Prayer silently mouthing the words themselves. And everyone stood as Obama took the oath of office at high noon administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

“Sixty years ago, we couldn’t have stood in the same room and talked to each other,” Marcus Daniels of Burlington, said after Obama gave his inaugural address. “It was enlightening. He has a lot of good issues. He will put a start on what is good that is to come. But I think it will take more than four years.”

Normally, Tuesday is the day Dr. Forrest Monoskie teaches a fitness class at the Proctorville Center. This morning he and his class came to the inauguration instead.

“He touched different areas that needed to be touched,” the Wheelersburg physician said. “It was outstanding. There is not one nation who is not going to listen over and over to what he said. … We will pull together.”

Daryll Bauer of Proctorville and his wife, Margie, came to the center because they felt it was an experience that needed to be shared with others.

“This is not a moment. This is a movement,” Bauer, a retired Marshall University professor, said.

Nearby sat Dr. Harold Lewis of Ironton who said he would have preferred to watch the event by himself, but felt the Proctorville Center was where he should be.

“They called and reminded me, but I wouldn’t have forgotten,” Lewis said. “I know I’ll tear up a lot before it is over.”

Lewis recently gave an interview to The Tribune about a society segregated not by legislation but acceptance that existed in his boyhood town and the changes he has seen in the fight for civil rights.

The adjunct professor at OU was the first to give his impression of the historic day for a special video project the center was doing that day. Those in the audience were asked to tape a few words for a video that will be shown at Ohio University Southern as well as the Proctorville Center before building buried in a time capsule.

“This day is special to me,” Lewis told the camera, calling the day a transition in American history. “It is a great time for me, a great time for America.”

After Obama made his first speech as president, Lewis described the new leader as taking a realistic approach.

“He didn’t paint a rosy picture,” Lewis said. “He told us what we are responsible for. He expects us to do our share.”