One of Two Million: Rose Hill man attends inauguration

Pres. Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle partake in a midnight dance on Inauguration Day at the Southern States regional ball. - Courtesy of Jon Bergevin
Pres. Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle partake in a midnight dance on Inauguration Day at the Southern States regional ball.
— image credit: Courtesy of Jon Bergevin

The event is rare enough that many do it once in their lifetime, if ever, and the same was true for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

Residents from across the country, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people, made the pilgrimage to Washington D.C.

For Kirkland, at least one of those people was Jon Bergevin.

Son of a local horse veterinarian, local folks recognize the Microsoft engineer from his skills in front of a piano. In his spare time, he’s played at Tula’s nightclub and Jazz Alley in Seattle and played a special performance last month at George’s Restaurant.

But many more have probably heard of him from the song “Fired up, Ready to go,” inspired by words from Edith Childs, a South Carolina city council woman whose phrase energized Obama’s campaign for president.

Bergevin’s long journey to the inauguration on Jan. 20 got its true beginnings there, producing the song last January. Along with brothers Joe, Jake, the Rev. Patrinell Wright and her Total Experience Gospel Choir in Seattle, the performance caught the attention of the campaign. Bergevin wound up speaking to an Obama rally of about 24,000 at the Key Arena and the song currently has 281,668 views on YouTube.

“We were all really inspired by him,” Bergevin said. “It was extremely important that he knew how the (U.S.) Constitution works in this time of crisis (since Sept. 11).”

Since then, the Bergevin brothers, the choir and Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron came together to compile a CD of songs, “Seven songs for America,” and dedicated the proceeds to fund Hurricane Katrina relief work. He was in Denver with his family during the Democratic Convention, hobnobing with the likes of Gov. Christine Gregoire and Jesse Jackson, Jr. when various films documenting Obama’s electoral success took notice. Bergevin parlayed that success into an invitation to attend the American Bar Association ball for the inauguration. However, he had no ticket to the inauguration itself. That’s where Total Experience Gospel Choir fan Tracy McConaughy came in. The Seattle resident had an extra purple ticket from Congressman Norm Dicks and gave it to him.

“You have to go, Jon,” said Rev. Wright, according to Bergevin. “150 people worked on the (music) project.”

Like “Charlie” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the pair took their rare tickets and went together to witness the event. He stayed at the home of a Capitol policeman in a Washington D.C. neighborhood and headed with McConaughy to the historic event around 6 a.m., but found themselves stuck (with thousands of others) in the Third Avenue Tunnel that led to a security checkpoint for ticket holders.

“It was just so chaotic down there,” he said. “We made it into a public area about three blocks north of the Capitol, but we couldn’t see it ... and couldn’t hear anything.”

They turned around about 10 minutes before the swearing in and listened to the speech in the cab back to their lodgings. Undaunted, he turned back around on a bicycle and with camera in hand, made the most of the historic day my snapping as many photos as he could.

He also managed to find a ticket to another event, the Southern States regional ball, where he would finally see the President and Vice-President dancing with their wives. Worn out from the long day and thinking about leaving the event early, he put a call into his brother Joe. He urged Bergevin to stay.

“Jon, you gotta do it, man,” said his brother Joe. “Sit down on the floor if you have to.”

He didn’t have to wait much longer. At around 11:30 p.m., Vice-President Joe Biden appeared with his wife Jill first, followed by the Obamas. The President spoke only for a few moments, but according Bergevin, it was worth it.

“This is your night, you guys,” Obama said. “You worked hard and made this happen.”

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