St. Augustine unites to celebrate inauguration

Photo by Haley M. Walker
Many held American flags at the “Come Together” event held downtown to celebrate inauguration day.

Community attends the first ‘Come Together’ event held in the downtown plaza

By Josh Wolonowski |

St. Johns County resident, Ann Cook thinks that the “Come Together” event, held in the downtown plaza on Inauguration Day, was life changing. Jan. 20 marked the beginning of a new era in American history for individuals around the world, including the citizens of St. Augustine.

The “Come Together” event was organized by a grassroots coalition of humanitarian and social-change groups, whose purpose was to bring the community together to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama.

One day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind sang the song, “This Land Was Made for You and Me,” as people of all ages and backgrounds gathered in the plaza together on the cold Tuesday morning.

Many waved small American flags and huddled under blankets as they waited for the inauguration to begin.

Cook attended the event with her daughter and two grandchildren. They took several pictures with one another in efforts to always remember the historical event and to celebrate the country’s progress.

“I’ve seen the civil rights struggle and to see the culmination of Obama, it is truly amazing,” Cook said.

While the crowd gathered around the television in the middle of the plaza, triumphant sounds came from the instruments of musicians, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.

Before Obama took the oath of office, church bells began to ring in the background indicating that it was noon, and Barack Obama had officially become the President of the United States of America.

The crowd erupted into applause.

After listening to President Obama give his inaugural speech, Michael Hunt, St. Johns Deputy County Attorney, said that even though he was a product of the ’50s and ’60s, this event was a complement to the greatness of this country.

“It shows that we are one as a people,” said Hunt. “We have done so much, we have more to do, and this is a great day in America, one that I thought I would never see in my lifetime.”

Dr. Brian Prugger, Flagler Sport Management Professor, hopes our generation is much more progressive than his own when it comes to prejudice. He also says by having the inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day so closely together, it puts an exclamation mark on what we have already achieved.

“After such a long campaign it is almost a surreal and hopeful feeling to see President Obama’s face on TV,” Flagler College student, Emily Jane Murray said.

“He has had a great impact socially already and we are just beginning to see what he can do as a president.”

In addition to the “Come Together” event, Flagler College also hosted a community lecture featuring H.K. Matthews, a local civil rights activist who worked with Dr. King.

“When I saw young people today, young white people, young black people all together, I saw what God intended for in this universe, that all of us must learn to live together,” said Matthews.

“We have by no means reached the top of the mountain, but I think what happened today was a down payment on the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream.”

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