WASHINGTON, DC – Even though she took photographs, the images from Monday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama are etched on her mind.
“It was one of those things you don’t really have to take pictures to remember it,” Salem High School senior Sarah Gobble said.
Gobble and her mother, Katie Elmore, had seats at the United States Capitol to watch the swearing in of the president for his second term.
“Just being there was incredibly powerful,” said Elmore. “The diversity of the crowd…there were black, white, Asian, Indian, young, old. The joy was almost palpable in the crowd. It was incredible.”
Seeing a man they admire take the oath of office was particularly meaningful to them because they campaigned for Obama during both his first and second campaigns.
“Witnessing history, having it be on Martin Luther King Day affirmed how far we have come in this country,” said Elmore. “It was joyous to be able to be a part of that,” she added.
It was the first inauguration in person for both of them. “I had watched the inauguration on television in 2009 and thought I would be doing it again this year. When my mom gave me the tickets for Christmas, I cried,” Gobble said. “Obama is my hero and makes me feel proud to be an American. For me as a young person, he gives me someone to look up to, and want to work for goals to achieve a vision for America,” she said. “To be able to be there was incredible.”
It was her third time seeing the president in person, she added. The first was when he campaigned in 2008 in Roanoke, again in 2012 and then at the inauguration.
“I am surrounded by so many negative things about this country. I’ve been kind of embarrassed, or not very proud of my country. The fact that this man has the ability to get people so fired up was exciting to me,” Gobble said.
“It was freezing cold but you kind of forgot about it, the long lines and the crowds because you got excited,” she said.
Her mother, who cancelled education classes she teaches at Roanoke College in order to be at the inauguration, explained how they obtained their tickets. “My dear friend, Carolyn Green of Salem, actually gave us the tickets for seats she got from Congressman Morgan Griffith,” she said.
“Sarah couldn’t vote in either of President Obama’s elections,” Elmore said, because she will turn 18 in February. “She worked for both Obama campaigns, though, and being able to share the inauguration with her was just incredible.”
Gobble knew of at least one other Salem-area student at the inauguration. “My best friend, Catherine Korsholm, whose dad works for Novozymes, and her family went. They are from Denmark and can’t vote but went to both Obama rallies in Roanoke. They’re really into American politics,” she said.
Gobble has already been accepted to Virginia Tech to study international relations. When asked what she wants to do for a career, “I’m going to do what I am passionate about,” she said.
“She has a heart for seeing the world as it should be,” her mother said. “I think Obama has given us an opportunity for that.”
Gobble explained why, in a highly Republican community such as Salem, she supported the Democrat the first time. “For the first run, Obama just represented every change we needed, and hope and promise we needed in our country. He was so inspiring to me,” she said. “I’ve been disappointed he wasn’t able to accomplish more in his second term,” she added. “I’m hopeful the two parties will come together for the greater good.”
She’s also helping change young minds. In her education classes at Roanoke College, “We talk a lot about the way politics shape education in schools. We have lot of debates in my classes,” she added.
Part of the day’s events was the parade, which included the entire cadet corps from Virginia Military Institute. For a look at two young men with Salem ties, see the VMI article in this week’s Jan. 24 issue of the Salem Times-Register.