My first inauguration experience wasn’t what I was expecting. I have attended many change of command ceremonies full of formality and uniformity. This felt somewhat messy, almost chaotic, but not necessarily in a negative sense. There were thousands of people on foot trying to make their way to see and hear the ceremony. It made me proud that so many — of diverse age and race — wanted to participate in the day. It was important to them, each for different reasons. Some came with the utmost enthusiasm covered in “Make America Great Again” gear, others wore signs that said “Never My President.” While some may have interpreted this as division, I viewed it as what America is supposed to be about. I got to see up close what an authentic free society looks like. I was able to hear for myself that yes, our country has very mixed feelings about a nation under President Trump, but I also got to hear people share their viewpoints in whatever manner they choose. What is more American than that?
The National Mall was full of spectators witnessing a peaceful transfer of power. I was seated to the right of the platform, and while my visibility was hindered, it was am incredible moment for me to hear in person the oath of our nation’s highest office.
Enthusiasm was in the air at the Welcome Concert, which took place at the Lincoln Memorial. There were diverse groups of people there to support President Trump and enjoy performances by Lee Greenwood, Sam Moore, and 3 Doors Down.
Because of extensive road closures in D.C. for security purposes, my friend and fellow military spouse Angela and I had to walk two hours to get to the inauguration ceremony. But we were thrilled to share the same fashion sense with President George W. Bush, who also famously wore a poncho that day.
The first place I headed after getting to D.C. was the Capitol. I wanted to see with my own eyes what the setup for a new president looks like. The choir was practicing in the background and people were gathered around all sides to get a glimpse of the ceremony platform.
Total fangirl moment! While walking around D.C., the TODAY Show’s Matt Lauer and Al Roker were walking ahead of me! Growing up in N.J., they both were a staple of my morning routine.
The national divide was on full display throughout the streets. There were Trump supporters donning “Make America Great Again” gear, while signs were posted everywhere looking for volunteers to join the anti-Trump marches. Even though this could be perceived as national strife, I viewed it more as a beautiful representation of democracy on display.
One of my favorite D.C. spots, the Newseum — a museum dedicated to the work of journalists around the world — had two messages on its exterior: one welcoming the 45th president and the other featuring words from the First Amendment. There is much concern among reporters about how the new administration will interact with our country’s media.
— Marine Spouse Bianca Strzalkowski covered the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump for AmeriForce Media, LLC. You can see her complete coverage of the events at www.AmeriForce.net