06 Feb Oh What a Night – What it’s Like to Attend a Presidential Inauguration
To quote a great 1975 song (showing my age here…): “Oh what a night!”
I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Presidential Inauguration and have to say that this bucket list experience was surreal, one that I will never forget. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Full disclosure – Trump was not “my guy” from the beginning, but I was fully on board after the primary.
With such a close election and Michigan’s role in electing him, I was really pumped for the Inaugural experience.
The scene at the swearing in was exhilarating. The Sterling team arrived at our standing location around 9:15 a.m. to the Marine Band playing and crowds of people walking all over the grounds to find their spot. Adults and children, people of various races, all were happy to be there to witness and be a part of history.
I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I felt. Truth be told, I was leery about being in that large of a crowd, and the possibility of unruly demonstrations – but I felt completely safe. The crowd was happy, loud and erupted in cheers often, but also quietly listened to every spoken word with the reverence and respect the moment deserved.
The ceremony itself was swelling with tradition. Our first President, George Washington, recited these very same words in 1789, and Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be sworn in at the Capitol in 1801 – the history fascinates me. From the music to the flags, the filing in of dignitaries, elected officials (old and new) and the mix of Republicans and Democrats, you could feel the positive energy.
The promises each president makes to its citizens never change. Although some may think it’s corny or a burden, most believe that the traditions we continue to this day are what make us special. Our traditions are what keep us tied to our founding fathers and make us who we are – a proud democracy able to withstand the transition of power from party to party, election after election, in good times and tough ones.
When President-elect Donald Trump stepped onto the balcony to take his oath, I wondered how he felt. This sea of people had assembled to witness his swearing in, but also to see the peaceful transition of power. I could only imagine the mix of emotions from jubilation to awe, combined with the weight of his responsibility.
After the ceremony, our exit was orderly and rather uneventful. We saw a couple groups of protestors but made our way back to the hotel to prepare for the evening’s festivities.
Rest assured we were prepared to have fun and celebrate. Sterling’s team attended the Michigan Inaugural Ball at the Smithsonian American History Museum where we could stroll through the museum to see the exhibits. In our high heels and gowns, we trucked to the Trump Freedom Ball at the Walter Washington Convention Center. There was no shortage of beautiful people, dresses, food and drinks. These events were massive galas, brilliantly planned and executed with all the pomp and circumstance you can imagine.
I will forever remember this experience and consider myself lucky to have attended such a historic event. Our country was built on a rich history of tradition, and no matter what side of the fence your political preferences fall, these moments are magical.
Ellen Kletzka is the office manager at Sterling Corporation, an LE&A company.