Steve Kelly- Contributing Writer
The heated election process came to a close on Friday with one of the warmest inaugurations on record. Hundreds of thousands of people traveled from all across the country to witness this historic event. I was fortunate enough to attend Trump’s inauguration with my dad and brother.
My experience at the event was unforgettable.
My dad, brother and I arrived at the nation’s capital two days before Trump was sworn in. The day before the ceremony, we walked around the National Mall in anticipation of the big event. When I got off the metro near the Washington monument, I was overwhelmed by the presence of law enforcement. Police officers occupied every street corner, and I could see three helicopters circling the area.
We walked east along Independence Avenue towards the Capitol and saw the space for what, in less than 24 hours, was going to be a massive crowd. Food trucks and Porta-Potty’s lined the streets for a mile. TV stations and freelance journalists interviewed the craziest looking Trump supporters, merchants tried to capitalize on selling Trump gear, and a few liberals even tried to sell Obama merchandise.
On our way back to our hotel that afternoon, we witnessed an unsettling situation on the corner of 3rd and D Street. An angry citizen confronted a group of police officers and started yelling in explicit language. It didn’t appear that her distress was trigged by any incident in particular, but instead that the police’s general presence set her off. After a few minutes of yelling, she left the scene in a rage. Thankfully, law enforcement had everything under control throughout our trip and we didn’t encounter any more alarming situations.
After an exhausting day moving around between different events, standing for hours, walking half a dozen miles and staying up late, it was time for a few quick hours of sleep before getting up early in order to get a good viewing location at the ceremony. We woke up shortly after 4:00am, took the metro downtown and got in line around 5:30 a.m.. From that point on, we weren’t able to sit down until well after the ceremony had ended.
Shortly after we got our spot in the audience, a breathtaking sunrise that broke onto the horizon next to the Capitol captured the attention of the whole crowd. Later, though rain had been in the forecast all week, it remained cloudy and a comfortable 45 degrees that day.
I struck up conversations with a few people in the crowd around me to make the six hours of waiting a little more bearable. Everyone I met was extremely friendly. Lisa from Sacramento told me she has been a Trump supporter from day one. She even watched almost every live stream of Trump’s rallies.
A group of students from Dallas said they booked their trip back in September, but they’re glad that Trump is the one taking the oath of office. One of them even did a live phone interview for a Dallas TV station while we were waiting.
When it was time, the Marine’s concert band set the tone and played classic American marches. The ceremony started around 11:30 with introductions of distinguished guests. As Hillary Clinton took her
seat, the crowd reacted with a mixture of boos and applause. Most in the crowd wanted to ensure a respectful transition of power, but the stereotypical Trump supporters couldn’t resist the chance to let loose on the failed Presidential candidate one last time.
The strongest reaction from the crowd came when senate minority leader Chuck Schumer spoke. Within the first 20 seconds of his speech, the crowd picked up on the worn-out Democrat talking points. From that point on, those gathered refused to listen silently, not even for one second, making it hard to hear the rest of Schumer’s speech.
While Donald Trump took the oath of office, I could hear protestors from the back of the crowd attempt a last-minute effort to stop the inevitable.
The most powerful moment of President Trump’s speech came in the closing line as the entire crowd joined in: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Exiting the ceremony took significantly longer than expected because protestors clogged up the exit points. As my brother and I went across town to the parade route, we noticed a line of Black Lives Matter protestors that stretched about three blocks long. Just a few minutes after they passed us, the protests turned violent as they smashed the windows of a Starbucks on the corner of 12th and K Street.
Later on that evening, thousands of Republican party insiders wore their tuxedos and ball gowns to the Inaugural Ball. The president was expected to make an appearance at two of the balls, one of which we were able to attend. The atmosphere was electric as musical performances entertained us while we waited for the president.
The reality of Donald Trump being President of the United States didn’t set in for me until he walked on stage to the song “Hail to the Chief.” Naturally, cell phones blocked my view of the man as everyone around me wanted to capture this historic moment.
It was another late night, and despite all of the excitement we were all completely exhausted from standing and walking for two days straight. Attending Trump’s inauguration was well worth the sore legs, however, because this experience is once that I will never forget.