Inauguration Trip 2009

A group of SMU communications and journalism students led by Rita Kirk, professor in the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in Meadows School of the Arts, is headed to Washington, D.C., in January 2009 for Barack Obama’s inauguration.

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A great awakening

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An update from Christene, a junior CCPA major and business minor (see Christene’s photos on Facebook):

My first day in D.C. was overwhelming. Arriving at the airport, a piercing cold breeze greeted us. The professors warned us it would be cold, but they didn’t specify it would be 14-degrees with an aggressive wind. Later, I learned that even natives of the Capital are shocked and are complaining about the unusually cold weather.

Christene-GEDC1518-sm.jpg Surprisingly, it wasn’t the unfriendly weather that made my first day in D.C. overwhelming. Instead, it was my experience, or better yet, my encounters at the Newseum. The Newseum is the museum of news located just a couple blocks from the Capital. Its artful displays of over-sized photos, interactive videos, and galleries document news coverage of historic events.

Christene-GEDC1520-sm.jpgDuring my visit at the Newseum, I saw and read about specific times in history when lives were lost, sacrificed, and taken. I discovered hatred and brutality that exist in parts of the world I’d never been. I witnessed flashbacks in history when freedom and equal rights were but a dream.

Christene-GEDC1521-sm.jpg Everything was there: coverage of the death of Marilyn Monroe, the story of Mississippi Burning, and the horrors of the Vietnam War. Photographers and journalists around the world should be commended for such great contributions. However, I don’t think the point of the Newseum is simply to commemorate the extraordinary men and women of the mass media industry who captured times in history to share with the rest of the world. Still, they deserve props and appreciation.

The deeper purpose of the Newseum is to awaken idle spirits of this nation. As Ronald Reagan said during his inaugural speech almost three decades ago, freedom costs. In order for any people, whether a racial group or an entire country, to have freedom, a select few must sacrifice their time, energy, and sometimes even their lives. In order for there to be peace, according to history, there had to be war. In order for there to be equal rights, first there was pain and humiliation. In order to achieve order, times of chaos had to be endured.

Instead of listing events I witnessed at the Newseum, I invite you to look carefully at the photos I’ve taken of only a few of the displays. I hope it convicts your heart and awakens your idle spirit as it did mine. The most essential enlightenment I got from today’s adventure was not the sightseeing or networking, but the realization that there is a far greater purpose than simply fulfilling my own happiness or achieving my heart’s dreams. The truth is all of my life’s achievements would be of greater importance and value if they were driven by purpose and contributed to the greater good.

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