Tears of joy, pride and fellowship swept through the ornate Borough Hall courtroom as a packed crowd of Brooklynites watched on a large-screen television as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th President and delivered a compelling inaugural address.
“The speech was a little more than I expected,” said Brooklyn Heights maintenance worker Jose Cardona, 65. “He [Obama] went back and put everything together from the beginning with our forefathers, and brought it all together. I think that said a lot.”
Cardona, of Puerto Rican heritage, said his grandfather fought in World War I, and he had uncles that fought in World War II and the Korean War, and that his son did a military tour in Iraq.
“I feel like I haven’t given enough but my family is really part of this and I feel a little closer. Growing up, I felt this country needed a lot of change, but today I feel that more Americans wanted this, not only blacks and Puerto Ricans but the whole of the United States voted for him.”
Stephanie Staple of Park Slope said she came to Borough Hall because she didn’t want to watch the historic event by herself. “I saw this (courtroom) was available to individuals so I decided to come here and make new friends. There isn’t words to describe that wonderful feeling today. I cried. If you believe and there is also a higher power than everything is possible.”
Anita Bulan, an Australian living in Carroll Gardens, said she thought about maybe going to Harlem or Times Square to watch Obama take office but between the cold and travel distance, she came with her husband to watch the event at Borough Hall.
“Obama is a global leader. I have friends in Australia waking up at three in the morning to watch this. It’s significant worldwide,” said Bulan.
Carol Griffith, 42, from Crown Heights, said she came to Borough Hall to celebrate the event with other people and the inaugural event lived up to its hype.
“I didn’t expect it to get as emotional as I did, but it was very emotional for me,” said Griffith. “When he (Obama) did come out and take the oath of office, it was really amazing. I thought his speech was very good. I liked that he emphasized the fact that not everything is going to be done overnight, but that it can be done. That it is something that will take time, but he’s willing to work at it and reach out to other countries.”
Griffith, an African-American, said Obama’s election came a long way toward fulfilling that American promise of all people being created equal.
“I would love to say it’s all over and all our problems have ended in terms of race relations but that’s not the case. There’s still going to be issues. There’s still going to be problems, but we’ve come a long, long way and it’s great to see that,” she said, adding she’s proud to be an American.
Wen Jay Ying, 24, of Cobble Hill, called the speech amazing and admitted to being a little teary-eyed.
“I think he’s definitely a transformational president on many different levels,” said Ying. “He’s motivating more African-Americans, and he’s also giving a lot of hope to many people who have lost faith in government.”
“It (his election) gives the people more power and faith that the government would actually listen to what the people want in our nation. It feels like for once we actually did something historical and positive, and it will be great for the world.”
Ying, whose Chinese-American parents immigrated to America where she was born, said she never really thought about having an Asian-American president one day, but did not discount the possibility.
It would also be nice to see a woman president, she added.
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