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Locals prepare for inauguration trip

NATCHEZ — When President Obama raises his right hand to recite the oath of office Jan. 21, Laura Winston admits she won’t be holding back any tears of excitement.

Winston, and a handful of other Miss-Lou residents, will be part of the large crowd huddled together in front of the U.S. Capitol to watch Obama’s swearing-in ceremony and inaugural address.

And if the event proves to be anything like Obama’s first inauguration, Winston said she knows it will be an emotional moment.

“I watched the first inauguration on television and cried through most of it because I realized how significant of a moment in history it was and one I thought I would never experience,” Winston said. “I am just as excited for this inauguration and even more so because I will be there to witness it first hand.

“I know it’s going to be a moment I will always remember.”

The voyage from Natchez to Washington, D.C., is being organized by Pilgrim Baptist Church in the form of a five-day bus trip.

Gloria Washington-Porter, chairperson of the planning ministry at Pilgrim, said she and another member of the church got the idea after seeing a flier advertising a similar trip from Baton Rouge.

“My niece lives in Baton Rouge, and when I saw that flier I thought it would be a great opportunity to organize something like that here in Natchez,” Washington-Porter said. “We’re trying to make this trip educational as well as historical, so we’ll be seeing several of the monuments and other sights.”

The trip includes two nights at a hotel in Fredericksburg, Va., as well as the bus transportation for $330.

Apart from the historical significance of the presidential inauguration, Washington-Porter said Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, will have double historical significance.

“The inauguration will actually fall on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, so we thought it was kind of double the history and something we really wanted to be a part of,” Washington-Porter said. “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to go, so this is going to be a very special moment for me.

“It was history the first time Obama was sworn in, but it’s going to be just as historical this time around.”

Terri McGruder, youth ministry chairperson at Pilgrim, is planning on taking 11 family members on the trip, but hopes her children will be able to appreciate the historical significance the most.

“I want my kids to remember that moment for the rest of their lives and be able to come back and share their experiences with everyone,” McGruder said. “We know they’ll be millions of people there, but it’s all about exposing my kids to cultural and historical experiences.”

And that historical experience will be something Winston said she could guarantee will live long into the future.

“I know (Obama) and this inauguration will be in our history books, and it will be exciting to be able to say I was there,” Winston said. “For the rest of my life, I will always remember that moment.”

For more information or to reserve your place on the trip, contact Washington-Porter at 601-597-9468.