by Jim Boyle
Nancy Schumacher has had a permanent smile ever since basking in the bright Washington, D.C. sunlight this past Monday for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Schumacher, who attended the event with her daughter as a member of the Democratic National Committee, says she returned to her Elk River home feeling a lot less political and a lot more humanitarian in nature.
“Being there made me want to be a better person,” she said. “I want to be less partisan and find things that I can do to help people in general. Something that might help humanity.”
It wasn’t just President Obama’s inaugural speech that had the longtime political activist beaming.
“The people we met were amazing,” she told the Star News Thursday upon her return to Minnesota. “Everyone so was so caring. They were so friendly. We all helped one another.”
The Schumachers were in place for the inauguration by 8:30 a.m. for the event that wouldn’t start for another three hours. They stood in huddled masses, sharing warmth and the pleasure of each other’s company while waiting in anticipation of being part of history.
Among the Schumachers’ neighbors at the inaugural ceremony was a 7-foot-tall man who would hoist his school-aged daughter on his shoulders to get a more accurate description of what was going on. The little girl got a glimpse of the Bibles — one used by Abraham Lincoln and other used by Martin Luther King Jr. — used to swear in Obama.
With temperatures in the 30s attendance surpassed predictions, making the event a rather cozy experience for Schumacher and her daughter, Carol, who normally don’t like long lines or large crowds. This was different, however.
While on the trip Nancy and Carol visited Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken in addition to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her office staff.
“They were so gracious,” Schumacher said of Bachmann’s team.
Schumacher said she realized there are so many things that both sides of the political spectrum can agree on.
“We love our country,” she said. “We care about seniors. We have an interest in bettering schools.”
It was while visiting Bachmann’s office that Schumacher was able to get some additional tickets for the inauguration. She wanted them to give away to D.C.-area locals who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to take part in the historical event or access their congressman or -woman. She decided to give them to two hotel workers she met while there.
The Schumachers also talked to Walt Schumacher (Nancy’s father and Carol’s grandfather) over the phone while taking in portions of the event. “He was so proud of his girls,” Nancy said of her 88-year-old dad, a retired Elk River teacher.
She and Carol brought him home an inaugural golf ball, commemorating his love of the sport and democracy. As for herself, she brought home some memorabilia and her smile.
“I am still smiling and remembering that I was a part of history,” she said. “I want to see what I can do to continue it.”