Citizens ring in new era

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FRANKLIN—People from throughout Western Tidewater celebrated the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, and offered praise and prayer for America’s new commander in chief.

Walt Brown, Southampton County supervisor and chief of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, attended Tuesday’s inauguration in Washington, D.C.

“It’s very exciting,” Brown said via telephone from the city before the event. “The energy is high.”

There were, however, some problems with crowd control. According to Brown, a crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 people tore down the steel gates to a viewing area where he had tickets.

“It’s a mess,” said Brown. “We have people up in the trees in (Independence) Mall. It’s a madhouse.”

When Brown called The Tidewater News, he said he was surrounded by a crowd of about 150,000 people.

“They should have had the National Guard here,” Brown said. “I’m hoping everything is going to be OK.”

Frank Davis and his wife, Almeta, went to Washington and braved the crowds as well.

“We were way far back,” he said of his spot to watch the event. “We didn’t get to see much.

“Now we are wondering how we are going to beat these crowds and get home.”

Those who could not make the journey to Washington watched the event on television.

“It was one of the most glorious occasions that I ever witnessed,” said Carol Wellons of Ivor. “I think he’s going to make a lot of changes. He has great support from a lot of people who are working with him and he will do very well. And I love him.”

Local church leaders led prayers for the 44th president.

“Father, we just witnessed a historic event,” said the Rev. Chuck Worth as he led a group of about a dozen people in prayer at True Word Christian Church in Franklin. “Bless (Obama) with wisdom, courage and knowledge. Let this be a time of healing. Through your wisdom, through your guidance, protect us. We ask that you draw us closer together. We thank you for our new president and for each other.”

Pastor Michael Dyson of the First Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Franklin gave the invocation for Tuesday evening’s local inaugural ball at the Paul D. Camp Workforce Development Center.

“Lord, we ask that you keep safe our new leader,” Dyson said. “That you wrap your arms around he and his family; that you allow us as a country to realize the potential that we have for the future.

“That no matter whatever obstacles we face that we realize that we must face them together.”