Political figures and U.S. citizens gathered in Washington D.C. to celebrate President Donald J. Trump’s January 20 inauguration, an event that has been long-awaited by supporters since his Nov. 8 election victory.
A few of those attendees included Lisa Rogers, Cassidy Rogers, and their family friend Griffen Courtoise. On Nov. 9 high school students Courtoise and Cassidy Rogers made it their priority to attend the inauguration.
“Attending a presidential inauguration is a once-in- a-lifetime historical event,” Cassidy Rogers said. “I’ve never seen a president in person. I thought it would be an awesome experience.”
Lisa Rogers secured tickets for the group that day.
“I called our local congressman John Shimkus and asked if there were tickets available. Thankfully, they did have tickets for us, but only because we called them early.”
Since they traveled to Washington D.C. all the way from Madison County, Illinois, the families had to stay in a hotel that was about two hours away from D.C.’s city center and ride the metro whenever they went into the city.
“On Inauguration Day, everyone on the train was wearing Trump hats and shirts,” Courtoise said.
“A woman got on the train and said, ‘I’m literally on the Trump train!’”
Cassidy Rogers noted that crowds were huge and security was tight. Despite the crowds, she didn’t witness too many protestors.
“They kept the protesters toward Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Cassidy Rogers. “We didn’t see
that many protesters, especially not on Inauguration Day. The few that we did see were very peaceful.”
“I absolutely acknowledge and respect the right to protest,” Lisa Rogers said. “As a nation, we have that first amendment freedom. The only problem I have is when things get violent and people started destroying others’ property.”
Security was tight at the train stations and the inauguration, and the National Guard was stationed throughout the city.
“I’ve never seen so much security in my life,” Cassidy Rogers said. “It was surreal to see so many members of the National Guard at once. It was a strange feeling.”
During their time in Washington, the Rogers and Courtoise families visited historic sites, attended the inaugural concert and met interesting people along the way.
“One of the best parts of the trip was meeting so many cool people who were willing to share their stories and what they knew about Washington,” Lisa Rogers said. “We met people who worked in D.C. who gave us a lot of information, and we met a man who survived the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.”
One of their favorite events was the inaugural concert, where performers like Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down played shows.
“Toby Keith is my favorite country artist, so getting to see him perform at the inauguration was so cool,” Cassidy Rogers said. “And the fireworks were absolutely beautiful. It was the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen, and it was all in front of the Lincoln Memorial.”
For Courtoise, one of the most memorable moments was Inauguration Day, when President Trump was sworn into office in front of the world.
“It was pretty memorable to see Hillary Clinton sitting there to witness Trump become president,” Courtoise said. “But the whole day was such a cool, historic moment. The peaceful transfer of power is so important for our country.”
Rogers and Courtoise noted that crowds were tight in the audience sections, and viewing was obscured by the stands where politicians sat.
“We were in the orange section, but on Inauguration Day we didn’t actually see President Trump with our own eyes,” said Courtoise. “There were tons of stands for political figures and media, which blocked a lot of the view. They had huge screens everywhere playing the live footage, but it would have been nice to actually see it happen in front of us.”
Despite those roadblocks, the ceremony still made its mark on their day, especially when President Trump gave his first speech in office.
“I found his speech to be excellent,” Lisa Rogers said. “It was beautiful to see that peaceful transfer of power, even in the midst of such a controversial election. In his speech, President Trump’s love for this country was a main focus, and I think that was very moving.”