Two days ago, I went with forty of my classmates to watch the 58th presidential Inauguration.
No, I don’t support Trump, I never have, and I never will. (I signed up for the trip hoping Hillary would win, but that’s another story). I had the honor of sharing my adventures on the affinity snapchat, and covering the opposition against Trump.
On the morning of the Inauguration, we rose at around five in the morning and were on the bus by six. The hotel we were staying at was about thirty minutes outside of DC, so we had to wake up early to find a spot to park before we walked about five miles to the inauguration site. During the five mile trek, I saw some sights I would have never imagined seeing. Imagine seeing a sea of red ‘MAGA’ hats worn by mainly white people. Groups of kids from other schools, older adults, and get this: children. There were small children, even babies, clad with ‘MAGA’ apparel ranging from shirts, to beanies, and sweaters. There were vendors at almost every street corner with carts full of MAGA merchandise, willing to barter to sell what they could.
Once I reached the line for security, it got worse. A whole lot worse. Now, I for one am a huge advocate for freedom of speech and being able to say whatever you want, but I was absolutely disturbed by the pro-choice and anti BLM protests I witnessed while waiting in line for security. Some of the signs included “BLM are racist thugs”, “Abortion is murder”, and “Homosexuality is a sin”. I was absolutely appalled and angered. Why they were protesting that, when Trump supports those ideals, is beyond me.
After waiting for an hour, we were lead through security and were able to walk to our spot by the mega-tron screen. The ground was covered in white plastic because the ground was wet. Eventually, the space began to fill up but where I was, it was never actually well, full. To put it in perspective, I could have laid down and spread out my limbs entirely, and yet not touch a single person.
I stood around with my classmates for an hour or so before the event started. It was cold, windy, and just overall matched the mood I was feeling. I felt numb, and wished for this to be some terrible dream I could pinch myself awake from. A moment I will never forget is when a late elementary aged boy dressed in MAGA apparel next to me tugged on whom I’m assuming is his mother’s coat, and asked “Is Pence a republican or democrat?” Now don’t get me wrong, that is a very young age to understand politics, but it boggled my mind that he was at the presidential Inauguration and his parents hadn’t educated him on the process before hand.
When the Inauguration started, I’ll admit that I was entirely focused on the appearances of the Obamas and Bernie and The Clintons. Michele looked as glamorous as ever, and Obama looked simply heroic. I needed to capture that small ounce of hope to keep me going through the next four years. But that small ounce of hope was ruined when boos rang through the crowd as Obama and Michelle were arriving, as well as the Clintons. It was extremely unsettling to hear and I was immediately brought back to the feeling of discouragement.
After the appearances were over, I listened to the various speeches that were being given so that I could really feel myself living in history, whether it was history I agreed with or not. Senator Schumer’s speech in particular was my favorite, because it gave me a lot of hope for the future and helped me remember why I believe what I believe.
When Trump’s speech started, I felt a very strong sense of discomfort, and I don’t think I was the only one who felt that way. Trump looked very, well, unhappy. He wasn’t smiling, just very flat faced. As he spoke, the crowd around me rung in cheers and it felt as though I was in a bubble. And then, he started talking about freedom. That’s when the bubble broke.
Did I….did I hear that correctly? Freedom? At this point, a friend of mine and I had actually started laughing. At first, I was scared to laugh because I didn’t want to anger anyone, but then I realized, I just didn’t care.
Once Trump’s speech had ended, I finally saw what I had been waiting to see. The opposition of Trump’s presidency. The first thing I saw was a few twenty-something year olds running up the sidewalk yelling “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!” As a Bernie fan, that made me particularly happy. Then, there were two men who were wearing ‘Muslims Against Terrorism’ sweatshirts and one of the men had a sign that said “Meet A Muslim”. I went over to him to ask him some question for the Affinity snapchat and just to show support. He was extremely kind, and his main message was that he believes that everyone uniting together is what we need the most right now. Many Trump supporters were talking to them and taking selfies, and asking questions which brought me some hope.
After the Inauguration, we had some time to go to the Smithsonians. While in line, my friends and I were talking about the Inauguration and how messed up this all is. There were a group of school students in front of us wearing Trump apparel who then tried to start arguments with a few of my friends, which made me sick to my stomach. We were simply having a discussion and minding our own business. What ever happened to freedom of speech?
Overall, this is an event I will remember for the rest of my life. Though I will hold the memory of seeing the Women’s March the next day to a higher status. History is truly in the making.