The dream plays out in D.C. for Rifle teen |

The dream plays out in D.C. for Rifle teen

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted PhotoKieryn Hammond of Rifle attended President Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C.

RIFLE, Colorado ” Kieryn Hammond saw Martin Luther King’s dream playing out on the National Mall during President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Hammond, 15, returned to Rifle Wednesday from a trip to the inauguration with the Presidential Youth Inauguration Conference. It was the her first trip east of the Mississippi River.

She watched the inauguration from about a mile out on the National Mall among armies of some 1.8 million people. She assumed people would be rude in such a big crowd, but it struck her just how kind people there actually seemed to be.

“Everyone was just really kind to one another,” she said. “There was just a really good energy in the air. Everyone was so excited.”

One theme from Obama’s speech stuck with her ” that the strength of America is in its differences. That theme also seemed to play out on the mall. Hammond is from Rifle, which, like many western Colorado towns, doesn’t have a great deal of diversity.

Being in Washington, D.C., afforded her the opportunity to meet all kinds of different people.

“I love where I live. It was just a new experience,” Hammond said.

She met one woman from Jamaica who was present during Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. That dream seemed to be turning into a reality before people’s eyes. The woman was interviewed for CNN by Anderson Cooper while Hammond and her friends appeared on film in the background.

“She hugged us,” Hammond said. “Her son had met Obama and hugged him. There were lots of conversations like that.”

The crowd was so massive on the mall it was actually better to stay farther away. Security seemed high with Obama behind Plexiglas and snipers on top of buildings.

“We realized the closer we went up the less we could see,” Hammond said. “We stayed back and watched the jumbotrons. People in the ticketed area couldn’t see.”

Hammond also got to see some of the sights in Washington, D.C., and hear speeches by people like former secretary of state Colin Powell, former vice president Al Gore, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Hammond got an invitation to go on the trip from the presidential youth conference after she participated in a Congressional Youth Leadership Council event a couple years ago. Students must be recommended by teachers to participate in the leadership council, which says its program scholars “represent the upper echelon of today’s youth both in academic performance and community leadership.”

Hammond looks forward to the future under Obama’s presidency. She’s eager to see how he’ll face tough challenges such as the country’s ailing economy.

“I supported him as much as I could,” she said. “I’m really excited about the future. I’m really excited to see how he deals with stuff.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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