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Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration meant many things to many people.
Some government estimates suggest that a record number viewed the event live, on TV, or through electronic devices as smartphone ownership and social media usage have nearly doubled since Barack Obama’s last inauguration.
While some protested, others partied.
In fact, one person told The Ephrata Review of his victory-viewing party which featured Inaugural-themed cocktails made with Russian vodka and a looping video of Trump’s pre-noon swearing in ceremony.
But the event was most significant to some local residents who began their Jan. 20, Washington D.C., excursion to witness live the launch of Donald Trump’s journey as the 45th President of the United States.
Julie Quagliata, who works at Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Ephrata, and her son Anthony left here at 5 a.m. and hopped on a D.C. Metro train near Landover, Md., to attend their first inauguration.
“Once Trump won, it kind of crossed my mind that we would go,” she said. “I mentioned it to (Anthony) who is really into Trump.”
While Anthony was at first apprehensive, worrying about protester violence, he decided he couldn’t miss this “once in a lifetime event.”
“It was basically him, it was his decision to go,” she said.
A 17-year-old junior at Lancaster Catholic High School, Anthony had become enamored with Trump leading up to the GOP convention.
“Well, I knew I couldn’t vote so I volunteered to knock on doors for (Trump),” he said.
He went to Trump and Pence rallies and visits in Lancaster, Lititz, Scranton, Harrisburg, and a quick drive to Lancaster Airport to see Trump’s plane take off.
“He went to rallies on his own and took his grandfathers to rallies,” Julie said.
Anthony said a gift he received Christmas day convinced him he had to go to the Inauguration.
“I got a T-shirt on Christmas day that said ‘President Donald Trump Jan. 20, 2017’ and that inspired me that I really, really wanted to go and be a part of history.
Being used to large Trump rallies was helpful, the Quagliatas said. They didn’t have tickets for the reserved area up front and entered a line that was “almost a mile long,” Anthony said.
It took four hours to get inside the gated Mall, due to human chains of protesters blocking entry points.
“Even if we had tickets we probably couldn’t have gotten in before the early crowd arrived,” Julie said. “It was a good thing (Dem.) Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke so long as we got inside just into for to see Trump’s swearing ceremony and church services
Jill Gagliano and her husband Joe had tickets but the seating area was filled by the time they arrived. The couple had stayed at a friend’s house outside Bethesda, Md., on Thursday night.
Like the Quagliatas, the Gaglianos used the D.C. Metro system to attend what was their second Inauguration. The first was President George H. Bush’s event where they scored tickets from Rep. Joe Pitts’ office, which sponsored a bus trip to the Capitol.
This time, with tickets supplied courtesy of Rep. Lloyd Smucker’s office, they had more flexibility and freedom to see more of the event thanks to public transportation, Jill said.
“We went through security and when we finally got to the orange section where our seats would be, it was full,” she said. “We were back one section but we were still up close inside on the Capitol grounds.”
They arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and set up shop next to one of the multiple monitors.
“We had talked to other people who said they waited four hours in line to get on to the National Mall,” Jill said.
Smucker, like all congressmen, was allotted slightly less than 200 tickets for 16th Congressional District residents.
Demand for those tickets was high, and they were raffled off randomly, his office said. Some additional tickets from other congressmen were also given to them to distribute.
“I was glad to attend (the) inauguration with my family, especially my three children, as we witnessed the hallmark of our republic – the peaceful transition of power,” Smucker, a West Lampeter Township Republican, said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with this new administration to advance a conservative agenda that will improve the lives of the people I am here to represent.”
Mike Yoder, who also scored tickets from Smucker’s office, attended his fifth inauguration.
“My first one was 1997, it was Clinton’s second inauguration,” Yoder said. “My brother and I went down when we were still in high school.”
Yoder said he remembers security as being “a lot more relaxed” that day when he took a bus from Lancaster to Washington.
“The bus dropped us off right at the north side of the Capitol building,” he said. “So we walked right off the bus right into the middle of the inauguration.”
He said there was a sea of people and he was instantly hooked on the historical aspect and political impact of the moment.
“There were supporters and protesters together in the middle of everything,” he said. “I was hooked from the start, I’d never been to anything like that. It made me want to go to all of the future inaugurations no matter who was elected.”
Since the Clinton administration, Yoder had only missed the 2013 inauguration.
“No matter who is standing in front of the podium, it’s going to be a historical moment for the country,” he said. “Every time is a different experience and you see different things.”
This year he saw a lot protesters and a lot of security
Both Julie and Jill had seen large groups of protesters but avoided any confrontations. Both received calls from their worried mothers warning them of the violence they had seen on TV including crowds clashing with police who arrested more than 200 people.
Police shot tear gas at protesters who broke store windows, set fires and taunted and attacked Trump supporters outside some of the Inauguration balls the previous night.
“I knew there would be protesters and I was following where they were,” Julie said. “I thought in my head that we would stay away from where the protesters would be.”
Anthony said he and his mom were probably more nervous before they arrived and that the excitement of the historic event took over.
“Once we got there I didn’t feel unsafe at all,” he said.
“It was fine until the end,” Julie said. “There was some kind of scuffle at the checkpoint where we were leaving but we had gotten out before that.”
Jill and her husband, who had been in Times Square during the 9-11 attacks, said there is always anxiety present in “this day and age wherever there’s a huge crow and a big event like that.”
“It’s always in the back of my mind where I think ‘if something happens what do we do?’” Jill said.
The couple had a plan in place “in case something happens” in where to meet and which Metro stop they needed to get to.
However, in the end, the Inauguration attendees said the protesters could not diminish the spirit of the event and their personal emersion into living history.
“For me it’s always emotional to hear the National Anthem but (Trump’s) speech this year made me feel especially proud,” Jill said.
Anthony and Julie were also moved by the National Anthem “when everyone joined in.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that, such a huge crowd where everyone was singing,” Julie said. “Everyone in the Mall was joyous.”
She was impressed by Trump’s “ability to talk directly to his audience” at the Inauguration, especially this quote:
“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump said. “And I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down.”
Jill said she also moved by Trump’s speech, which she said “was an incredibly inspiring for our country.”
“Trump said ‘The forgotten will be forgotten no longer’,” Jill said. “That’s powerful stuff. For myself it feels that the American worker and small business owner has been left behind for eight years.”
She praised Trump’s direct approach and his clear plan of action “that had been missing in government.”
“We want a leader to be honest with us. We don’t want someone who is going to sugar coat everything.” Jill said. “If you don’t identify the problem and speak honestly about a problem how can you fix it?”
Patrick Burns is a staff writer and social media editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4455.
About Patrick Burns
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