It really was a day to remember.
I'm assuming that anyone reading this has already read news coverage, so I'm only going to post about my personal experience:
The transportation logistics were convoluted, but not terrible given the huge number of people they were transporting. The 16S bus we had been promised didn't exist, but that didn't really matter. Bypassing L'Enfant Plaza and getting dumped at Judiciary Square instead probably cost us an hour of walking around, but gained us the experience of getting to walk through the 3rd street tunnel. On the way home, we didn't even try to get on the metro near the Mall, but walked across the 14th street bridge to the Pentagon. We passed a woman who suggested that it would be grand to have no cars and pedestrians walking down the middle of Independence Ave all the time.
The lines for the ticketed areas were a total mess. The silver line literally looped back onto itself at one point. We lucked into being right nearby when they opened up a new gate, but I'm not at all surprised that some ticket holders never got in. There was no one managing the lines or providing information that I could find.
The Mall was a madhouse (we were jam packed so tightly that I literally couldn't move my arms for most of the time, and I could only see small pieces of the Jumbotron, let alone the actual events) but it was still a glorious day. Everyone was just so happy and excited and buzzing. I've never been in that tightly packed a crowd other than for short periods on the subway, but it was ok.
I really wasn't that cold, except on the way home. I guess we were packed in so tightly we kept each other warm, like penguins.
That said, I'm glad that D turned down my offer to come. He would have been tired and uncomfortable and unable to see, and I would have had him on my shoulders for hours, and we both would have been cranky. It was a day for going with the flow, and I'm particularly bad at going with the flow when I feel responsible for other people's happiness.
The crowd was more integrated than any event I've attended that I can think of. The woman in front of me (white) was 6 months pregnant and part of a group that was 4 adults and 16 children. She's a lot braver than I am. The woman next to her (black) said she was only there because her 91 year old mother wanted to be there.
I'm not generally a fan of Rick Warren, but it was moving to hear so many people around me saying the Lord's Prayer under their breath around me.
The crowd was a lot more rowdy than you could tell from the TV broadcasts -- there was lots of cheering for Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter as well as Bill Clinton and all of the Obamas, and there were pretty loud boos for Bush, Lieberman, and Clarence Thomas. (Some for McCain, but not as many as for the other three.) And there was lots of singing of hey nah, good bye. Chants of Yes We Can and Obama while the dignitaries were arriving.
I don't think the people around us knew that Aretha was going to sing, so there were whooops when she was announced.
I couldn't really hear most of the speeches -- the audio wasn't very loud, and there was also an echo effect from the multiple jumbotrons -- so I watched the whole thing over again once we finally made it home.
Here's a photo I took during Obama's speech -- by holding my camera over my head and snapping in the general direction of the screen. The view from my eye level was much worse.
Forgot to mention: Everyone in my section was amused by a squirrel who was clearly freaked out that there were so many people under ITS TREE. At one point it got up the nerve to jump from one tree to another, and there was an audible cheer in our area.