WASHINGTON, D.C. - As millions of Americans watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama on television, two North Country girls were able to witness the event from our nation's capital.
Nicole Roberts, a senior at Saranac Central School, and Nicole Fisher, a seventh-grader from Peru Central School, were selected as representatives of the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference and Junior PYIC to attend the historic inauguration Jan. 20.
While the two didn't travel together to Washington, D.C., they both attended similar Inaugural Conference events, including roundtable discussions with notable political figures featuring former Secretary of State Colin Powell and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Above all, was the opportunity to witness the inauguration in person.
"I was standing there watching it, and a lady standing behind me I didn't even know, turned me around and gave me a kiss on the cheek and a hug as soon as he was sworn in," said Roberts. "I've never seen that many people in my entire life. There was definitely this energy. You kind of got swept up in it."
"There was a lot of screaming from everyone being so excited," Fisher recalled. "I did see [Obama] but I didn't get to shake his hand or anything like that," said Fisher.
The event meant a lot to both Roberts and Fisher, though each have contrasting political views. Roberts considers herself a Conservative Republican. Fisher didn't give herself a political label, though found herself siding with the Democratic candidates for president in last year's election. She first supported now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was running for the Democratic nomination. However, when she lost the nomination, Fisher said she was for Obama making it to the White House.
Roberts said he was a "big supporter" of Republican John McCain, but knew that regardless of who won between McCain and Obama, it would be an election to remember.
"It was either going to be John McCain, who is like my idol, or very historic with our first black president. Either way, it was going to mean a lot to me," said Roberts. "It's something that when I'm old I can say I was there."
While Fisher said she liked Obama's speech, there wasn't any particular part that struck a chord with her. However, Roberts said she was impressed with the Democrat's stance on the tough issues he has been presented with in his role as commander in chief.
"I like the part where he said we're not going to give in to terrorists, we're not going to let this depression weaken anything, and that we're going to come back bigger than we ever were," said Roberts. "I just hope he's going to keep his promise."
"I'm just still trying to sink in all that I saw," she added. "It feels weird not having President Bush up there making a fool of himself."