D.C., Virginia Residents Serve As Inauguration Co-Chairs | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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D.C., Virginia Residents Serve As Inauguration Co-Chairs

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D.C. resident David Hall, a former airman and an advocate for the gay rights movement, is a national citizen co-chair of the presidential inauguration. 

The Presidential Inaugural Committee chose eight Americans whose personal stories represent a policy President Obama is championing. Hall served six years in the Air Force, was given a chance to become a pilot but then his dreams were dashed.

"In 2002 I was discharged, or dis-enrolled from Air Force ROTC because of 'don't ask, don't tell,'" says Hall. "A fellow cadet went to my commander, said I was gay, and I didn't say anything."

Hall began fighting for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." He was ecstatic when it was repealed in 2010 by the president and Congress, but the fight isn't over, he adds.

"Of course there's still a lot to be done," Hall says. "You know benefits, same sex legally married couples aren't getting the benefits that their same counterparts are. And that's a huge issue."

Hall wants the president to use his bully pulpit to help end "ongoing discrimination" against the LGBT community, he says. But today, he's excited to be a part of the second inauguration of a president who ended a policy that got him kicked out of the military he loves.

Ida Edwards of Petersburg, Va. is another of the co-chairs.  Besides being an advocate for the president's health care law, Edwards is also a bridge to a sad chapter in the nation's history.

"I lived through the civil rights movement and that was a lot of experiences that I don't want anyone else to have to go through," she says.The president's story is inspiring for generations to come, she adds.

"And so, you know, he gives hope. I have grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I want everybody's children to have the fair chance to realize their dreams," she says. 

Edwards was here for the 2009 inauguration, but as a citizen co-chair she's getting a closer seat this time and riding in the parade and even getting some face time with the president last week.

"I'm just so honored to meet him, and because of my parents never realizing or believing a black president — that we could have one — and then I get to be a part of it and be in the Oval Office with him," she says. "It's overpowering."

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