About 20 students involved with Gators for Obama packed their bags with winter jackets for the president’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

Gators for Obama co-chairwoman Rachel McGovern, a 20-year-old UF political science junior, said the students had been thinking about attending the inauguration since Obama was re-elected.

“It’s a nice end to volunteering and working so hard,” she said. “It’s been on people’s minds since November 6.”

McGovern said she grabbed a ticket to the inauguration when her friend’s mom bought them.

She bought the ticket for $60 from Ticketmaster.

She said some people flew, and some drove up to Washington.

McGovern went in a car with four other people about 7 p.m. Friday and drove through the night.

While in Washington, D.C., students saw the White House, the Capitol and the setup of the inauguration, as well as embassies.

On Monday’s crisp morning, an estimated 800,000 people filled the National Mall for the president’s second inauguration. McGovern woke up at 6 a.m. to be checked into the inauguration two hours later.

She said she had a clear view of the Capitol Building.

During his speech, Obama spoke on behalf of the current American generation and its journey through the past four years.

“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience,” Obama said. “A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun.”

The speech, which was 15 minutes long, touched on health care, the national deficit and gay rights.

Musicians Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce sang at the event.

Richard Blanco, the first Hispanic, openly gay inauguration poet, recited his poem “One Today” about the country’s landscape and referenced the Newtown shootings.

“One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked their way to the sea,” Blanco said. “Thank the work of our hands: weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report for the boss on time … or the last floor on the Freedom Tower jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.”

Nineteen-year-old UF political science and sustainability studies junior Maria Martinez described the experience of standing with thousands of people during the inauguration Monday morning as surreal.

“When it really got down to it, it was all really worth it once we saw him get [sworn] in,” she said. “The cold and the lines were really worth it.”

Martinez said the experience was fulfilling for everyone.

“There were tears and laughter and applause, and it was really overwhelming,” she said.

McGovern and seven other people attended the black-tie Commander-In-Chief Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

The group saw President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

They also watched Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, dance together.

She said the group enjoyed the performances by Stevie Wonder, Brad Paisley, Jennifer Hudson and Mexican band Mana.

“It’s been more like a concert,” she said.

The group plans to return to Gainesville late Tuesday night.

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected].

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