Reporting David Sutta
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – They may have been a thousand miles away, but distance didn’t keep hundreds of Americans from celebrating the President’s inauguration in South Florida.
“I’m so glad I lived, not just to see the first black President, but the re-elected black President.” said Erna Beckels.
The 74-year-old was one of many who witnessed history at the Adrienne Arsht center Monday. Four-years-ago the center opened their doors for throngs of people to witness history. They decided to do it again this year.
Adrienne Arsht CEO John Richard said the decision whether to host the free event was not even a question.
“Regardless of political persuasion, this is an event for democracy and we celebrate as Americans this rich tradition,” Richard said.
Many in the crowd were obvious supporters of President Barack Obama. Almost all held hope that this term will be better than the last.
“Maybe because they know this is his last term they will be more open to giving him the opportunity to do some of the things that he has a vision for,” said Jeannette Marie Kemp.
The event sponsored by CBS4 not only allowed the community to bond with a historic moment, but learn about a man most had never heard of until today.
Richard Blanco, 44, a civil engineer by training, started a new career roughly a decade ago in writing. He returned to Florida International University to study. His family has been inspired by his determination.
“Follow your dreams. Richard was able to do it so anybody can do it,” Blanco’s cousin Bernie Navarro told us.
A handful of people in the audience included Navarro, Blanco’s friends, even students Blanco mentored at FIU. They were all moved to hear his original poem titled – “One Today”. It’s about all the things that bind us as Americans.
In one excerpt Blanco spoke to the various kinds of work that Americans rush off to do everyday as the sun comes up over the nation. It reads, “To clean tables, read ledgers, save lives. To teach geometry or to ring up groceries as my mother did for twenty years so I could write this poem for all of us today.”
FIU student Susan Tapia was personally moved by the poem.
“All his personal references, they are references that are universal to a lot of us, to all the struggles of making it in America,” Tapia said.
Blanco’s appearance is historic three times over as the youngest Latin American who’s openly gay to read at an inauguration.
The poet’s good friend John Bailly summed up the moment as, “I think that as a country we are constantly striving for the perfect union. That perfect union never really exists. But I think today by President Obama selecting Richard, he’s endorsing the diversity of this country.”
The Adrienne Arsht Center said they are going to make a history of doing this every four years. They hope to connect South Florida with history happening just a thousand miles away for decades to come.