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New England Revelers Make The D.C. Pilgrimage By Train

Thousands of people from New England joined the revelers Sunday for the Lincoln Memorial concert in Washington. Some of them took the train there this weekend. WBUR's Fred Thys rode along.

The train is sold out. People jam the aisles in search of seats. Those headed for Washington are full of expectation. Some have volunteered for Barack Obama. Others are just curious.

ROBERT NASH: My name is Robert Nash. I’m a freshman at Harvard College. ... I'm from Houston. ... I doubt whether I'll be this excited about the president again, the inauguration. ... I'll be keeping an eye on the first hundred or so days, and, hopefully, he can bring us out of this really nasty recession that we're going through. ... Hopefully I will stay warm and relatively dry, but I’m also hoping I will have an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

By the exits, the snow is blown in and tucked against the bulkheads. Some doors are covered with snow on the inside, giving the train a frosty look. In some places, a cold mist blows through from outside. Birds huddle in the openings of pond ice, sipping the frigid water, oblivious to the expectations carried by the train speeding by, expectations like those of Jonathan Abraham.

ABRAHAM: I am from Queens, New York.

Abraham is in his third year at the Harvard Medical School.

ABRAHAM: I just want to be in D.C. at the time, just tell my grandchildren one day that I was there.

KAREN SACHS: I'm Karen Sachs. ... I live in Hudson. ... I hope that he changes our economy. I hope he changes everything, because the last eight years have really been a huge disappointment. ... I'm one of these people that got laid off. ... I feel like I owe it to him to go, because I feel he’s going to do something for me in the future, at least I hope so. I really hope so.

Sachs was working on feature films in Los Angeles until she was laid off in September. On a lark, she moved to Massachusetts.

SACHS: Just kind of moved here at the worst time, of course, but it's going to be so exciting down there, and just to be in the rush of everything, I'm hoping it’ll make me forget for a second that I don't have a job.

Ting Hoephner doesn't have a job, either. She used to be an archaelogist in Virginia. When the National Park Service laid her off, she moved to Cambridge.

HOEPHNER: I used to feel bad about being unemployed. Now I just feel like I'm part of the crowd.

Hoephner is already thinking about another crowd she'll be joining soon.

HOEPHNER: I'm picturing it like ... the movies at the end of World War II, where people are jumping up and hugging.

There is no jumping and hugging on the train, just quiet conversation and much anticipation.

This program aired on January 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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