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Your Inauguration Memories

December 28, 2016

Every four years Washington, D.C., transforms as the city prepares for another presidential inauguration. Whether it's the second for an incumbent president or the first for a newly elected leader, the energy in the nation's capital is palpable. Bleachers and spotlights line the streets ready for the parade. Hotels brim with guests as millions of people pour into D.C. to catch a glimpse of history in the making.

In the January Washington Lawyer, we asked our members about their most memorable inauguration experiences. Below, Anthony Pierce of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Charles Ingebretson, former EPA chief of staff, share their memories.


Anthony Pierce
Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Pierce, watching from chambers at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was moved to tears by President Obama's inauguration.

"We attended an inauguration watch party by one of the judges who was kind enough to open their chambers. Their chambers looked right out onto the Capitol and my wife and I, along with a bunch of other folks, watched both through the window and on the TV. The moment of him accepting the oath, and then later when the motorcade went right by the courthouse, these were great moments. 

My wife, Karen Stevens Pierce, is a civil rights attorney. That brought water to our eyes. I'm the same age as President Obama. My generation was the first one that benefited from the legal demise of all the institutional discrimination that existed in the country. So, we had a better shot at education than our parents. We had a better shot at jobs and at all of the American Dream. Obama is of that generation as well. I was born in '61 and the Civil Rights Act was in '64, and the Voting Rights Act was in '65. These two laws helped eliminate what I call institutional racism, and we benefited from it. So, it was good to see him achieve that great moment."

Charles Ingebretson
Former EPA chief of staff in George W. Bush's administration

Ingebretson recalls President Obama's 2009 inauguration and working until the very last minute.

"At the beginning of the Obama administration, I was cleaning out my office at the EPA and truly trying to get out of town before they closed the roads. I was a political appointee at the EPA during the last years of the Bush administration, and so we were told we needed to be out of our offices for the new team to come in. 

It was late on the evening of the last day we were supposed to be there. I was taking boxes of stuff down to my car and came across, in the EPA corridors, two guys pushing a maintenance cart with pictures of President Bush and Vice President Cheney that they had taken down from the walls. There was another trolley coming along behind with pictures of President Obama and Vice President Biden, and they were going to put those up. 

Every agency office, in their main reception area, has pictures of the two. It was poignant in a way, a mundane indication of the peaceful transition of power."