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January 22, 2013

President of the Greater Terre Haute NAACP Branch offers firsthand account of Obama inauguration

TERRE HAUTE — There was more elbow room for the throngs of spectators and better overall organization for President Obama’s second inauguration compared with four years ago, said Valerie Hart-Craig, president of the Greater Terre Haute branch of the NAACP, who attended the swearing-in ceremony Monday in Washington, D.C.

Four years ago, the crowds were so large “you could hardly move,” Hart-Craig recalled. This time, there was more room to move and more families with children in attendance, she said. “There were kids everywhere, people [were] friendly. … It really is wonderful.”

Hart-Craig, who spoke Monday afternoon to the Tribune-Star by phone, was among the hundreds of thousands of people who stood on the National Mall to watch Obama take the oath of office.

“It was just awesome,” said Hart-Craig.

Hart-Craig attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2008 when he became the nation’s first black president, something she said her grandparents used to say they believed would some day take place but some did not live to see. And, although this was the second time around for Obama, Hart-Craig said it was no less meaningful.

“It was as important this time as it was four years ago,” she said.

Regarding Obama’s inaugural address, Hart-Craig said she feels it showed the president has truly settled into his job. “I’m really looking forward to the next four years,” she said.

Hart-Craig said the atmosphere surrounding the inauguration was friendly despite the high level of security. She also noted that Mother Nature was kinder this time around. While it was still cold this year, the sun shown during the final two hours of the event, she said.

“It’s overwhelming to a point because it just means so much,” she said of Monday’s swearing-in. “It was just beautiful.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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