By Cheo Tyehimba

In this hyper-media age, why travel from California to Washington, D.C. to watch a black man be sworn-in as the 44th president of the United States?

I mean, with a few clicks of the mouse, I could watch it on YouTube, right? Or easily check out CNN’s cash-cow coverage of the inauguration. But ask anyone who attended the 1963 March on Washington, 1968 Olympic Games, or the 1995 Million Man March and you’ll hear life-changing perspectives, memories that shift consciousness in ways that go beyond living room spectator sports. Why sit passively and let some pundit or announcer tell you how you’re supposed to feel when Obama raises his hand and takes the oath? Why sit passively and wait for news directors and cameramen to shoot the images they want you to see instead of being there to experience it for yourself? These are just some of the reasons, my family and I trekked to Washington, D.C. to experience the changing of the guard ourselves.

We took the long way because we’ve come a long way. And getting there was half the fun.

The road to D.C. took us to New York first, then Philadelphia, and finally D.C. And the people we spoke to along the way made the trip all the more interesting. At the 30th Street Station in Philly, a reporter wanted to know why we were headed to the inauguration. We told her.

On the train ride to D.C., we shared our car with Japanese tourists, members of The O’Jays band, the PBS host Charlie Rose, and inauguration lottery ticket winners — all bound for the inauguration.

We passed up tickets to the Illinois Ball because we didn’t want to be with elected officials in furs and black ties making speeches and eating chicken dinners. We wanted to be with the people. So that’s where we’ll be tomorrow. We have our tickets and will be front and center (well, not really, but close enough) to the swearing-in ceremony.

And at that very moment, I plan to lift my little girl in the air so she can experience the moment her generation got the keys to the kingdom, or so to speak. No matter how, you look at it, this is a game changer.