Locals Reflect On Ceremony
VMRC Residents, Valley Dems Watch President With Pride
Posted: January 22, 2013
Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community residents and local Democrats gather at VMRC for a viewing of President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Monday. (Photos by Preston Knight / DN-R)
Residents at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community organized a viewing party for the Monday ceremony and invited friends and other local Democrats.
On Jan. 20, 2012, flames engulfed the North Summit Avenue home Sawin and his wife, Ruby, own. That came two months after his car was stolen.
Sawin did not spend his time sulking; he didn’t have time to.
The 68-year-old Kansas transplant immersed himself in Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. Sawin assumed the role of a “neighborhood team leader,” canvassing homes north of Harrisonburg for support of the president.
Obama’s second inauguration on Monday — a day after the first anniversary of the fire — was a time to celebrate for Sawin because it was a reminder of all that was actually good about the past year.
“This was a big dividing time in the history of the United States,” he said. “Are we going to let corporations run the country or let people run the country? And corporations are not people. …
“We felt the Republicans were trying to buy the election.”
After a short pause, Sawin added: “I cry thinking about it. I worked 12 months for this.”
Several Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community residents organized a viewing party for Obama’s inauguration Monday. They invited friends, such as Sawin and other local Democrats, for the event, which about 50 people attended in Strite Auditorium.
“The sense of history that he described is almost unbelievable,” VMRC resident Cal Read, 87, said of Obama. “I just wonder what [Mitt Romney] would’ve told us today that would have connected us with history. It’s just thrilling.”
The historical significance of Monday was obvious to Doris Allen, an 86-year-old African-American attending the watch party: Obama’s inauguration to a second term as the nation’s first black president occurred on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“I’m enjoying all of this because all those years ago that color of the skin made a difference,” she said. “We may still have a long way to go, but we’ve come a long, long way.”
For Ruby Lehman, Obama’s open mind to bring equality for people of all backgrounds strikes a chord.
Lehman, 81, has a gay son, and she is a gay rights activist.
“When they don’t get equal rights,” she said, “it really hurts me.”
Time To Compromise
In response to the inauguration, Gov. Bob McDonnell said it is time to find “common ground” on the major issues facing the nation.
Tracy Evans, chairman of the Harrisonburg Republican Committee, said that could only happen with Obama’s assistance.
“I certainly think the president is going to have to be willing to compromise more than he has been willing to compromise on a lot of different issues,” he said, noting the nation’s financial woes as among its most pressing problems. “The president just can’t issue a mandate and executive order to go along with it. Congress is there for a reason.”
For Sawin, as celebratory as Monday was in wrapping up a trying year’s work, he also realizes the labor is only beginning for Obama.
“Getting him re-elected accomplishes nothing. It’s his agenda and policies [that matter] now,” he said. “The starting gun has just fired.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org