A Teenager’s Historic Adventure

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - January 28, 2009
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Mililani freshman David Nakao at the Home States’ Ball

Somewhere in a long-lost Boylan family photo album there is a picture of my brother, my mother and myself sitting in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. I was 7 years old, and that picture was about all I remember of my first trip to Washington.

We were en route to the graduation of my elder brother from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and my dad - when en route to anywhere - did not tarry, even for the many attractions of the nation’s capital. Mama Boylan got her snapshot - that was all.

I’ve made it back to Washington, of course: once in the service of a Republican congressman, a second time in the service of a Democrat from Hawaii, and on several journalistic forays. So given my advanced years, bum legs, thinning blood and growing impatience with crowds and lines, I decided to skip the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, historic as it was.

Not so for 14-year-old David Nakao. David joined his two siblings in campaigning for Obama this past year, and when his mom suggested that, should Obama win, the family attend this year’s inauguration, David threw himself into the enterprise.


He had to pay his share of the trip, so he devised a half-dozen ways of making money - most of which required the seamstress skills of his grandmother and his own talents as a salesman. And a salesman he is. He even succeeded in selling me exclusive rights to his account of the Obama inaugural.

Herewith, David Nakao’s historic adventure:

Four days before Inauguration Day, David, his mother and his brother and sister enplaned for Washington. They flew Northwest, which meant they flew through that airline’s hub city of Minneapolis, and there a local boy’s adventure began: “When we landed in Minnesota we saw snow!” David wrote. “It was the first time I ever saw snow, and when we landed it was snowing! ... Snow covered all the buildings.”

On his first evening in Washington, David joined a cal-abash auntie for a walk on the National Mall. They found it “empty - just Obama vendors with inauguration apparel.” Empty of everything except portapotties: “Hundreds of them, lined up in rows. I’d never seen anything like that before. They say there’s a total of 5,000, but that isn’t enough for the 2 million people they expect. We’ll see what happens.” David also rode Washington’s Metro and reported that “It’s an easy system and fast; a great way to get around.”

On Inauguration Eve, hapa-Filipino David went to a reception at the Philippine embassy, where he met the Philippine ambassador to the United States and marveled: “Going to the embassy was really cool. When you walked in the door, you left the United States and stepped on Philippine soil. I left the country and didn’t even know it.”

Things got even cooler at the Disney kids’ concert hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, where David watched Miley Cyrus, the Jonas brothers, BowWow, George Lopez and Queen Latifa -among others - perform. “Michelle talked about how we were the future and how we were a part of history and that she hoped it inspired us to help change America.”

On Inauguration Day, David and his family survived a long line but eventually found themselves standing close to the stage with a good view of Obama’s swearing in.

“I imagined that everyone would be pushing or in a mad rush, but there was no fighting or anything,” David wrote. ” It was like a Bob Marley concert where you could feel the positive energy, where everyone was happy and you just felt so great that nothing can hurt you and you had no worries.”

David expressed amazement at “how important this moment seemed to be to everyone, and how convinced they were that Obama will be the greatest president and will bring change to America.”

David and his family took the Metro to the Home States’ Ball. It was not a pleasant trip. “The security was ridiculous,” he wrote. “The Metro was closed where we planned to get off. We had to walk five blocks to a security checkpoint, then they told us to go down two blocks to another checkpoint. There, after they checked our tickets, they told us we had to walk another few blocks to another checkpoint - all in freezing temperatures.”

By the time they arrived, the president and his lady had come, shuffled around the dance floor, and gone. But Vice President Biden and wife Jill showed up, and Jack Johnson and John Cruz performed. A tuxedoed, 14-year-old Mililani freshman “got to go up really close to the stage, which was great.”

David had a good time. “This has been the trip of a lifetime, and I will always remember it. ... We were a part of history ... and when we’re old we can tell our story to young people of how our generation helped change America.”

That he will. That he will.

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