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A family affair : Pastor, family to attend inauguration in D.C.

Category: RV, Inauguration
Source: Northwest Arkansas Times
Publish Date: Monday, January 19, 2009
Summary: After packing up his 39-foot RV and doing a quick head count, Pastor Marcus Carruthers and his family headed north Saturday to witness the fulfillment of a longtime dream during this year's 56th quadrennial presidential inauguration.

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Posted on Monday, January 19, 2009

After packing up his 39-foot RV and doing a quick head count, Pastor Marcus Carruthers and his family headed north Saturday to witness the fulfillment of a longtime dream during this year's 56th quadrennial presidential inauguration.

"My son had just been studying about Washington, and now he'll be able to experience what he's only seen in books," Carruthers said. "He's really excited, and so am I. This will be a time of pulling into his life at a young age to help him become the man he was created to be."

The historical swearing in of Democrat Barack Obama, who will be America's first black president, adds significance to today as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, just one day prior to Tuesday's inauguration. The swearing in will occur at noon outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Carruthers, who serves as pastor of Dwelling Place Church in Fayetteville, is making the 2,400-mile round trip with his 9-year-old son, wife, sister and three brothers. He plans to share his family's experience via blog updates, which can be viewed on the Times' Web site at The blogs will be updated throughout each day of the family's trip.

"Being able to attend the presidential inauguration of the first African-American president is an incredible opportunity," Carruthers said. "It says a lot about the country and why we live in America.

"It reminds me of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech, in which he spoke about seeing everyone work together. The power of teamwork and diversity is becoming a prevalent reality today. It just goes to show that we work better as a team than we do as individuals. We're excited to see where our country is going as we continually try to make it the best country in the world."

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the family plans to prepare care packages for the military at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington.

Carruthers' wife, Dionne, said she surprised her husband with tickets to the inauguration for his 40th birthday in December. She received three free passes from U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, after making a request via e-mail.

"I told him that attending the presidential inauguration had been my husband's longtime dream," she said. "I felt he deserved to go after all he's done for his community. The congressman said he'd received a number of requests from other people, but that he wanted to give them to me because I was the only one who provided a reason for wanting to go."

After keeping her gift a secret for nearly a month, Dionne finally broke the news to her husband by presenting a letter from Boozman on his birthday.

"I saw tears start rolling down his cheeks as I watched him read it," she said of his reaction. "He was so happy. He said it was the best present he could have ever received."

Members of Dwelling Place Church also donated money for the Carruthers to rent the 39-foot recreational vehicle.

The group left at about 2 p.m. Saturday and drove to Knoxville, Tenn., where they spent the night in an RV park. The family hit the road again Sunday and arrive in Washington that night. The group will return to Northwest Arkansas Thursday.

Though Marcus Carruthers, his wife and his son were the only family members to receive tickets to the presidential swearing in, extended family members said they were just as happy to go along for the ride.

"When I voted, I waited in line for four hours," Marcus Carruthers' sister, Sheila Douglas, said. "The line was a mile long, and the parking lot was completely packed. You just knew it was history in the making, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

The Oklahoma resident said she and her family typically take a group trip each year. This year's excursion, she said, will likely be the most memorable yet.

"I'm not just excited because [Barack Obama] is the first black president - it's bigger than that," she said. "I'm excited because he's a president for the people."

Dionne Carruthers shared her sister-in-law's sentiment, stating that she hopes for her country to become more unified.

"I think it sends a message of hope that we can unite our country and that our future will be brighter than our past," she said. "It's a blessing to be a part of this, and it's something we won't ever forget."

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