Thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C. last week to see Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, the celebratory parade and to participate in marches and demonstrations over the weekend.
Among the thousands gathered was a handful of USD students, some there to celebrate the incoming president, others to demonstrate.
Jordan Hanson, a junior political science major, didn’t make it to the swearing-in but was on hand for the parade, which she said she enjoyed thoroughly.
“For me, being a Republican, that was really cool,” Hanson said. “I think just seeing the president of the United States, regardless of the party, is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Most of the people Hanson saw at the parade shared in her eagerness to be there, she said.
“Everybody who was at the inauguration and the parade I think were excited for the most part,” Hanson said. “I mean, there were people who had signs and were protesting, but nothing that was outrageous. I think it was pretty civil.”
Kade Lamberty, a senior political science major and a member of USD’s College Republicans, was one student who went to see Trump be sworn into office Friday.
“It was amazing,” Lamberty said.
Arriving early was essential to seeing something so monumental, Lamberty said.
“The gates opened at six in the morning, and we got there at like 5:30,” Lamberty said.
He and his friends stood in the crowd for six hours awaiting the swearing-in, which took place at noon. As early as they were, Lamberty said his group didn’t get very close to the stage.
“I couldn’t make out facial features on Trump when he was giving his inauguration speech,” Lamberty said. “But there was one of those big-screen TV’s right to the right of where I was standing at so I could see everything that was going on pretty clearly.”
After the inauguration itself, Lamberty and his group went to the parade, which wasn’t much easier to access.
“It was really tough to get into and it looked like a lot of people got frustrated and decided not to go to the parade,” Lamberty said. “But we got in, we stood right on the intersection right by where the parade started at, and we got to see all the Secret Service cars drive by. Very cool experience.”
Mackenzie Huber, a senior political science major, made the trip to participate in the Women’s March.
“It was an incredible weekend,” Huber said. “My parents were a little worried, they were texting me about all the riots that were happening, and I hadn’t heard about them because I was on a flight. But I got out there, and you could just tell that the town was buzzing, in a really unique kind of way.”
The enormity of the crowd demonstrating at the Women’s March left an impression on Huber.
“I could not believe how many people were there, it was just insane, even at seven in the morning,” Huber said. “It was so crowded, most of the time we were just kind of elbow-to-elbow, it was a little too close for comfort, but it was cool just to be surrounded by that many people.”
Huber said she didn’t feel the same dread as some people who attended the march.
“I was kind of in a very hopeful, celebratory mood, which I know was maybe not matched by everyone,” Huber said. “When Trump won the election, it was kind of, I feel like collectively people just sort of closed the curtains and thought, ‘Maybe the world isn’t exactly as we thought it was.'”
Those curtains, Huber felt, were opened up by this march. She went with good intentions and high hopes.
“The buzz surrounding the planning of this march just kind of felt like a pulling-back-the-curtains kind of moment, and it was kind of a time where we’re regrouping, it was a hopeful time, and that’s what I felt and that’s why I booked a last-minute ticket to fly out to D.C., I felt like I had to be a part of it,” Huber said. “I made a sign, my sign said, ‘Making lemonade,’ which was kind of a reference to when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Although there may have been some animosity to Trump at the Washington demonstration and others, Huber said that she wasn’t marching to promote negativity.
“I really didn’t go there with any hate in my heart whatsoever. I was really just there to be part of that group,” Huber said. “I felt like it was really peaceful, not hateful demonstration. I honestly could not wipe the smile off my face for the first few hours, it felt like this rare moment where you can feel history being made under your feet.”
Olivia Strom, a senior international studies major, went to New York City on Thursday and traveled by bus to Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
“It was honestly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done in my whole entire life,” Strom said. “It was very uplifting.”
Strom said the most impressive part of the trip was the size of the crowd.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been around that many people at once in my whole life,” Strom said. “Everybody’s attitude was very positive.”
Benjamin Scott, a junior addiction studies major, is a member of a National Guard unit that was sent to Washington to work security at the parade. He and his fellow guardsmen stayed at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins baseball team.
Scott worked with the TSA and the Secret Service to screen people coming into the parade.
Unlike his fellow USD students who made it to Washington for the festivities, Scott didn’t have the opportunity to see the swearing-in, nor the parade he was working to secure, though he did see demonstrators.
“We saw a lot of protesters,” Scott said. “You could pretty much see (them) wherever you looked. There were a lot of protesters there.”
Despite the large number of people demonstrating, they didn’t cause a pose a security problem.
“They had their composure, they didn’t get out of hand,” Scott said.