Youngsters get an up-close look at nation's history being made
Jacqueline Chalifoux, left, and Chloe Rodrigues turn to watch the crowd during the broadcast of the ceremonial inauguration in the theater at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
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This much is certain. On Monday, the young Rodrigues children of Lawrenceville witnessed history.
But will they remember it?
"Hopefully," said Paul Rodrigues, 36, their father.
His family was among the 30 or so children, parents and staff members who gathered at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to watch Inauguration Day festivities. Shortly before noon, a C-SPAN feed played on a pull-down screen, and the words spoken from the steps outside the U.S. Capitol drifted into a theater inside the North Side museum.
"This is a moment when millions stop and watch," said Lamar Alexander, a Republican senator from Tennessee, in a short televised speech.
That may have been overstating the state of attention of the children at the Children's Museum. A few did watch the television closely, while a baby crawled around the floor and older kids squirmed in their seats. Children whispered to their parents, bounced around the floor and looked around at what other kids were doing.
Still, whether they remember or not, years from now they can say that in 2013 they witnessed President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden take their oaths of office at their second inauguration.
The Leong children -- ages 9, 7 and 3 -- were among the inauguration watchers.
"I wanted them to recognize how significant this process is and to appreciate that as citizens," said their mother, Judy Chang, 43, of Squirrel Hill, who was joined by her father-in-law, Hong Leong, 73, also of Squirrel Hill.
As for whether any of her children will one day find themselves up on the dais, hand on a Bible, Ms. Chang said she didn't yet know.
"You never know," Ms. Chang said. "Hopefully, what we can do is inspire them that it's a possibility if they ever want it."
Four years ago, she was with co-workers at work when she watched Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden take their oaths of office for the first time. Then, the crowds in Washington, D.C., were a little bigger.
The same was true in 2009 at the Children's Museum, which hosted 75 people at its first inauguration watch, marketing director Bill Schlageter said. This year, about 30 people watched the festivities from the museum's theater.
"This is history, and for some of these families, this might be the first time that they've seen an inauguration," said Taylor Garcia, program coordinator for the museum.
It was not the first time watching an inauguration ceremony for the Rodrigues family, but it was the first time watching it at a public event.
Paul and Angel Rodrigues talk about politics and current events with their children at home. But for this inauguration, they decided to bring their children -- 7-year-old Ian, 5-year-old twins Hunter and Sage, and 3-year-old Chloe -- to the museum to help them realize that what they were seeing was important.
Ms. Rodrigues told her children, who followed the campaign and the election, that Inauguration Day is the moment when Election Day results become official.
There are milestones in American history -- and in his children's lives -- that Mr. Rodrigues hopes are imprinted in his children's memories. Inauguration Day 2013 is one of them.
"You have to stop them and say, 'this is significant,' " Mr. Rodrigues said.
It's too soon to tell, he said, if any of his children have political aspirations.
Ian had an answer when asked instead what he thought it would be like to live in the White House like Malia and Sasha, the Obama children.
"Probably cool," he said.
First Published January 22, 2013 12:00 am