Nation gathers in DC to witness Inauguration

President Donald Trump flags wave at a vendor stand near The Capitol before the Inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

To kick off a whirlwind weekend filled with history-making events, thousands of people crowded the streets of the nation’s capital to bear witness to the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.

On Friday, Donald J. Trump took the Oath of Office amid protest demonstrations across the country — of which continued into Saturday with the global-wide Women’s Marches.

Trump’s supporters filled the downtown avenues of Washington, D.C. beginning early Friday to in anticipation of the noon swearing-in ceremony. Lines to enter the National Mall stretched and snaked throughout the city. Protesters filled the intersections. Members of the National Guard and police forces surrounded demonstrators from religious crowds with megaphones to grassroots activists with drums.

Thoughts on Trump From D.C. from on Vimeo.

Supporters poured into the city from all over the country.

Ernie Spardy, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, came to Washington D.C. for his first presidential inauguration.

“My friends and family will be home and just have to hear about it through the talking heads. It’s nice to hear it unfiltered,” Spardy said. “I’m optimistic; everyone here is united. The core message is ‘America first.’”

Spardy recognized that a lot of people are upset, but emphasized that people should separate personality from policy.

“People have to give him a chance,” he said.

Michigan native Susan Olson expressed similar sentiments, saying that not all citizens who expressed hatred toward the new president have done so with accurate knowledge of his ideals and goals for the country.

“It just amazes me. And I think that’s what has whipped people into a frenzy: The fear that our freedoms are going to be lost,” she said. “I just don’t think that’s true.”

Having grown up in Detroit, Olson said she witnessed first-hand the desiccation of the automobile industry that resulted from jobs going overseas. The loss of domestic employment is something she believes Trump can bring back to the nation.

“I think there hasn’t been enough protection of Americans. And protection is a loaded word,” she said. “I just don’t think there’s been a real interest in keeping America employed — and he can change that.”

Across from the National Mall, a small group of people gathered around a television in the hotel lobby to hear Trump take the Oath of Office and give his speech.

“We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done,” Trump told the crowd spread across the National Mall. “Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.”

Two friends from Pennsylvania who volunteered for Trump’s campaign leading up to the election were also in Washington D.C. for their first inauguration.

“It was awesome to be with people from all over the country,” said Nancy Meiser. “ It seems like the country is coming together.”

Meiser, and her friend Tom Sloan, made a promise to each other that if Trump won the election, they would make the trip out for his inauguration.

Sloan said he has frequently visited D.C., but Friday was the first time he witnessed one of the candidates he voted for make it into the Oval Office.

“I was here for Ronald Reagan’s funeral. That, obviously, wasn’t any fun,” Sloan said. “It’s been a lot of fun here, and there is a lot of happiness. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for this new president.

“(Trump) is not a puppet of politicians in D.C., or lobbyists or other countries,” Sloan said. “I’m hopeful he’ll make smart decisions because he has managed all of his businesses and is a good coordinator.”

Not all the attendees in the city were supporters of the new commander in chief. 

Jeremy Alexander, 27, from Saginaw, Michigan, came to voice his opposition.

“I am an organizer for the Michigan Democratic Coordination Campaign, which is under Hillary for America,” Alexander said. “I really felt like I was invested in (Clinton’s) campaign. I put a lot in this election; it was very emotional. I’ll be staying for tomorrow’s Women’s March.”

D.C. resident Tom Mamdouh parked his three food trucks underneath a bridge along 7th Street on Thursday, in preparation of the crowds of supporters and protesters flocking to the streets over the weekend.

The crowds, he said, were unlike any he’d ever seen in the 19 years since he emigrated to the area from Egypt.

“I’ve never seen America so divided. Just from what I’ve seen on these streets, it’s unreal,” he said.

Mamdouh said that while he welcomed the influx of customers and business, the occasion wasn’t something he felt favorable about.

“I don’t understand this new president,” he said. “(Trump’s) plans … they’re all up in the air. He says things like how he’s got plans to fix the economy, plans for health care, schools (and) jobs, but he never says how he’s going to do it.

“I wish he’d just tell us the plans,” Mamdouh said. “He’s all talk.”

In a city divided by political views, Trump began his presidency with a rally cry to unite under a stronger America.

“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power,” he said. “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.

“We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.”

Trump’s address to the American people as its 45th president symbolized, as Olson put it, a “peaceful transition of power” that separates the country from others.

“That’s what a democracy is,” she said. “And the core of the democracy is respecting the vote of the people. You have to accept that that person is going to be the leader. That’s just the way our democracy works.”

Alex Delaney-Gesing is the managing editor and Karl Schneider is the senior editor of The Kent Stater. Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected].