Rosalind Campion portrait

Rosalind Campion

Counsellor for Global Issues

Part of UK in USA

22nd January 2013 Washington DC, USA

An Inauguration to Remember

Inauguration Day is a four-yearly highlight of the Washington calendar – and indeed, the calendar of most US citizens.

It is the day when the newly elected president is sworn in for the next four years. Full of pomp and circumstance, bugles, marching bands, songs, prayers, and lots of US flags, “What are you doing for inauguration?” has been the question on everyone’s lips since New Year – and for years to come, people seem to recount where they were when…

So the pressure was on for Layla and me to have a fabulous inauguration weekend.

Our personal inauguration extravaganza kicked off on Saturday night, at an inauguration-themed comedy event at a cool downtown event space, followed by a late night event in Georgetown showcasing political cartoons from Obama’s first term that had appeared in the Economist, Time and the Washington Post. The band and crepes were not an unpleasant addition to our evening, either…

Of course the main event was on Monday. 600,000 people swarmed to the National Mall to watch the President and Vice President being sworn in – until the morning, I could never have imagined quite so many people lining my morning running route.

Every inch of the grass that runs from the Washington Monument to Capitol Hill was claimed by flag-waving enthusiasts who’d arrived in the very early morning.  The excitement was palpable as we walked past, en route to a law firm which overlooks the White House who had invited us to see the Inauguration from their office.

With US flags pressed into our hands (and an embarrassing glittery US hat sported by Layla), we entered into the celebratory spirit. It was particularly fabulous to hear Obama’s speech and his passionate call for equality for all.  It was also really good to hear Obama voicing his intention to commit to domestic measures to address climate change.

It was a fun event, and we walked home after the parade amid closed streets and celebrating citizens to prepare for the evening ahead.

On inauguration night, Washington swarms with inaugural balls – a couple of official ones (where the Obamas join the partiers for a dance), and numerous unofficial ones. I was able to attend the Environment and Clean Energy Ball on behalf of the Ambassador – and not only was it a 5-minute walk from our house, it was a brilliant event.

There was a clear reaffirmation of the US’s commitment to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020 from Heather Zichal (Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change). And we heard the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus talk about the priority which has been given by the armed forces to renewable energy. Then the band started to play, and we danced the night away – an excellent end to our first inauguration weekend.

Though it was not quite the end for me. With a good chunk of the DC population celebrating into the small hours, Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization I volunteer with that works to end homelessness in DC, e-mailed me saying they had a volunteer shortage for the 6am breakfast-making shift.

So after our dancing, we left the ball early, and I set my alarm for 5am. Cooking waffles for some of DC’s homeless people before work on the coldest day of the year so far seems a fitting end to a wonderful inauguration weekend that celebrated the good that is being done, and committed to the good that is still to be done for people living in the US.

About Rosalind Campion

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science,…

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science, innovation and transport.

Originally a corporate lawyer working in London on intellectual property issues, Roz was most recently with the Ministry of Justice, where she set up and ran the Sentencing Council, the national organisation responsible for ensuring a consistent approach to criminal sentencing by the UK’s judiciary.

She has previous experience working on foreign policy issues, including during her time at the Ministry of Justice, as well as through her work with the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and as a lawyer working on international law cases for a top human rights litigation firm.

During her time in academia, Roz was responsible for the public international law programme at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, where she specialised in international trade and environment law.

She lives in Georgetown with her partner, Dr Layla McCay.

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