And yet it was anything but.
It had all the trappings of a chartered bus used for long journeys, such as plush, reclining seats and a built-in bathroom. But it was also special — a way for Pam Scales of Anniston to honor her father, the Rev. A.A. Scales, and all he had fought for during his life.
The pastor marched and protested during the civil rights movement and was confident an Illinois senator named Barack Obama would be elected the first black president of the United States. However, pastor Scales died just a few months before Obama won his first presidential term.
His daughter didn’t miss the bus ride to Obama’s first inauguration and she certainly had no plans to miss the trip to his second and final one.
“To me it’s a milestone,” Scales said of Obama’s second inauguration. “It’s something I never expected to see in my lifetime.”
Scales was one of several area residents who boarded a bus in front of the historic 17th Street Baptist Church in Anniston Saturday to travel to Obama’s Monday presidential inauguration. The group took a side trip to Gadsden to pick up another collection of travelers before commencing the long, 14-hour journey to Washington, D.C.
Scales expects the second inauguration to be just as impressive and exciting as the first one four years ago.
“Thousands of people were there, people of all races,” Scales said. “It was an awesome experience.”
Nikki Sterling, a member of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who helped organize the bus trip, said the inauguration was history in the making.
“A lot of our parents were in the civil rights movement and so we’re continuing this for them,” Sterling said.
Sterling noted that she was unable to travel to Obama’s first inauguration, so getting to go this time was extra special for her.
“It means everything,” Sterling said. “The water hoses in Birmingham and everything … all of that is certainly paying off to some degree.”
Augatha Jairrels of Anniston stayed home to care for her sick mother and didn’t attend the first inauguration. Jairrels said the second inauguration is just as important to her as the first one.
“It still feels the same as it did then,” she said. “We definitely need a lot of change … hopefully in Washington we can see some of those changes.”
Sebrena Scales, Pam Scales’ sister, said she also missed the first inauguration and made sure she would not miss the second one.
“This will be very historic and I wanted to make sure I saw it for myself,” she said. “It’s something my dad would have really been proud of.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.