Chicagoans eager to view history

January 17, 2009 8:23:11 PM PST
President-elect Barack Obama will be sworn in on Tuesday. And people all over the world have begun the journey to Washington so they can witness history. The excitement is building in the nation's capital. Cold temperatures have not stopped hundreds of thousands from converging on the city on the coldest night in more than a decade.

The hottest ticket in town is the inauguration. And that's why they're coming here. President-elect Barack Obama is in Philadelphia on Friday night preparing for his whistle stop tour. Onboard will be family and friends and what he calls everyday Americans. And while Mr. Obama will arrive in Washington by train, hundreds of Chicagoans will make the trip by bus.

"I'm ready for that bus ride! Just because I am 81 years old, it has nothing to do with me sitting on that bus," said Roberta Wilson.

Roberta Wilson can remember the days when her parents had to pay a "poll tax" to vote. Decades later, she's heading to Washington, D.C. to witness the inauguration of the first African American president.

"As Dr King has said, I have been to the mountain top. Now I am seeing promiseed land and I am very excited," said Wilson.

Wilson is joining about 600 others on Congressman Danny Davis' bus trip to the nation's capital. There will be ten buses carrying a diverse group of people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

"It's not how long it takes us to get to Washington on the bus it's the experience. It's the people that's going to be on the bus. We are all going to be very warm and we are going to become a family on that bus," Wilson.

The group will stay in several hotel rooms and have their own ball in Maryland the night of the inauguration. Some will have tickets to the swearing in ceremony, but most will not. That doesn't matter to Antoinette Ratliff. It's her dream to be able to share in this magical moment of history even though she is battling breast cancer.

"I'm just glad I'm part of this now and I'm alive today to get on this bus Sunday and just be there with everyone with the excitement its like Christmas all over again," said Antoinette Ratliff.

Ratliff and her husband have already seen the president-elect up close. When Obama was a senator, he presented Stanley Ratliff with a prestigious public service award. "Wow, I can't believe it I met this man," said Stanley Ratliff. "Standing next to him was just awesome and I may not get up and personal like I did then but just being there? that's fine. I'm fine if I see him on the TV there, it's fine."

When the Ratliffs and Wilson see that moment hen Barack Obama officially becomes the president of the United States for them it will mean the dream is possible. "It's happening and we should all be proud of it and him and us. We have all come a long way together," said Ratliff.