LIMA —Hometown residents and natives will represent the city in a variety of ways in Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
Lima resident Josiah Mathews was selected as a volunteer for the inaugural balls and has been in Washington training. He will contribute to hospitality service at the Inaugural Ball on Monday night. He’ll also attend the inauguration, but he’s not sure yet whether he’ll be working or just watching.
Mathews, a full-time student, wasn’t able to help as much with this campaign as he did with the 2008 effort, but wanted to do his part now.
“I’ve seen friends from 2008 and 2009, and from organizing work from the summer here two years ago,” Mathews said, taking a break from training on security, navigating guests, ushering, will-call windows and crowd control. “There are a lot of people here from Ohio.”
Mathews has his tickets from U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s office, but he may not need them Monday.
“It’s sort of up in the air. I have the tickets, but they may just have me work the swearing-in,” Mathews said. “I’m just excited. It’s the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people and it’s nice to see the fruits, the end results, the celebration of so many people working to re-elect the president. And, any time I can represent home in a positive way, I take advantage of that.”
Along with the president, Rob and Christina Lhamon will make this two-for-two Obama inaugurations when they attend with their children. Four years ago, the Lhamons went with their daughter, who was 8 at the time. Four years later, she is 12 and their son is 9, old enough for the trip.
“Our kids really wanted us to go; they were the driving force behind it. That’s why we’re making the trip again,” Rob Lhamon said.
The Lhamons also received their tickets through Jordan’s office. The history lesson will be from a better perch this year. Four years ago, the family stood by the World War II monument. This year’s tickets have them closer to the Capitol.
“We just love the pomp and circumstance of it,” Lhamon said. “It’s not really about satisfaction that your candidate won an election. For me, that came with the pass of health care reform. As a cancer survivor, I’m nearly a one-issue voter, and that’s it. The reform has helped our family. This is just a really neat thing.”
Lima native Master Sgt. Melinda Burts is with the band. The U.S. Air Force Band, that is. The 99-piece band and 80-person Air Force Honor guard will march in the 1.5 mile inaugural parade route that begins at Fourth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and goes past the White House.
Burts is a clarinetist with the concert band, the largest musical ensemble of the Air Force Band. A 1995 graduate of Miami University in Oxford, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and began her Air Force career in 1997. She has been a member of The U.S. Air Force Band since March 2001.
Since its formation, the Air Force Band has marched in 15 inaugural parades (there was no parade in 1945, and the 1985 parade was canceled because of weather).
For those who want a taste of the festivities, but can’t be in Washington, the Minority Caucus of the Lima/Allen County Democratic Party will host a Presidential Inaugural Ball starting at 6 p.m. Monday at UNOH Event Center. Tickets at the door are $40. The formal event includes DJ and live music, dancing, live news feed of the inaugural balls, toast, food and cash bar.
The caucus sent a letter to the president congratulating him. The letter mentioned Obama’s visit to Lima shortly before the election and included symbolic tickets to the Lima event.
“We would be honored if you hold our tickets in your possession as they represent our deepest sincere wish for your every success during the next four years,” the letter read. “This letter is to pledge to you we will continue to work at your side for every challenge we face to bring us back to our destined position of strength in the world. In other words, Mr. President: We’ve got your back!”