Among the 800,000-strong crowd on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., were some suburban Democrats who traveled east to see President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Standing in the bitter cold, some craning their necks to get a view of the main podium, attendees checked in with the Daily Herald, sharing their perspective as they were witnessing history.
Lauren Beth Gash, Highland Park
Former state lawmaker and current party leader
Obama's speech "was inspiring, touching on a lot of themes of unity," Gash said. She called his second inauguration a validation of his first term -- a sign that his election wasn't a fluke -- and marveled that someone she once worked with in the state legislature now leads the nation.
"Having served with him in Springfield, just the idea that he was elected president is incredible," she said.
Gash said that, by comparison, the inauguration crowds were easier to navigate than in 2009, if still huge. And she said it wasn't as bitterly cold, either, affording onlookers a more comfortable inauguration than Obama's first.
Raja Krishnamoorthi, Hoffman Estates
Former Democratic congressional candidate
Krishnamoorthi described the Brooklyn choir singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic as a highlight during the inauguration ceremony.
"If angels sang, this is probably how they'd sound ... despite the frigid conditions, I think the warmth of the ceremony got us through," said Krishnamoorthi, a longtime friend of the president who has worked on Obama's campaigns.
The day, Krishnamoorthi said, made him "feel extremely proud to be an American."
Zack Carroll, Burr Ridge
Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in September
Carroll said he liked that Obama emphasized progressive themes such as gay rights in his inauguration speech.
"I think it's about time a president embraces that."
"I thought that it was great that he mentioned climate change."
Terry Link, Waukegan
Democratic Illinois state senator
Link said Obama's references to interpreting the U.S. Constitution to adapt to current times was a statement on gun control and other issues.
"I think he was telling the nation a lot of things without out and out saying it."
"Times have changed. Let's change with the times."