Witnessing History
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Politics and Activism

Witnessing History

My experiences at both the Inauguration and the Women's March in Washington DC

Witnessing History
Ashlyn Sasser

On Inauguration Day, my group woke up around 7 am, took the somewhat crowded metro into the city, went through security, and got to the inauguration around 9 am. Around this time, people were still trying to get into the inauguration because the line for the security check was tremendously long, so it wasn’t all that crowded at the beginning, but it did get crowded as it got time for the actual inauguration to begin. Those reports that show pictures of the fields in front of the capital being ¼ full were probably taken around an earlier time when everyone wasn’t in yet. My group was close to the capital, but not close enough to see what was going on, so we watched what was happening on these huge screens they had set up that showed the procession to the capital, the crowd, and the swearing in.

To describe the crowd at the inauguration, there is one article of clothing that can sum it up: red hats. Those “Make America Great Again” hats in all variations were worn by many and were also being sold in the line leading into the inauguration. Standing in the mass of people, you did have breathing room and could move around easily but there were still quite a few people there. The civility of the crowd was subpar; booing Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and even the few who booed Barack Obama were just plain rude and disrespectful. There were a considerable amount of USA chants throughout the affair, so it had a very patriotic feel to it. There were few protests where I was, I only saw one sign that said “Not My President” as we were walking in.

Leading up to the inauguration, they played a video featuring music and pictures that summed up past presidencies, the thing is I don’t really know the theme they were going with. They showed George Washington (who didn’t have a political party), skipped John Adams (who was probably considered a part of a more Democrat Party), showed Jefferson (who was probably considered more a part of a Republican Party), but then skipped James Madison (who was in the same party as Jefferson). Maybe they had President Trump pick his top 30 presidents, I don’t know, but that was one thing that stood out. Also, they only had a playlist that probably had around 10 songs on it, because I heard Rolling in the Deep, I Want it That Way, and I am Proud to be an American just one too many times while waiting.

President Trump’s speech was a good length and got the crowd really hyped up, especially when they all shouted along to “Make America Great Again” with him. It was nice to see a few past presidents as this was happening, especially Jimmy Carter who just defeated cancer. As President Trump’s speech was going on, it started to rain, and in the corner of the screen, you could see President George W Bush struggling with a rain poncho. It’s moments like these that make you glad you were there to witness it.

The entire Inauguration Day can be described as short and effective, we got there and back in a reasonable amount of time and the actual ceremony was around an hour and a half.

Now the Women’s March is a completely different story. The metro was packed, and I mean where you weren’t moving for a solid few minutes. We practically had to squeeze ourselves together to fit because there was no room. We were going to the National Mall this day, and the lines for the Women’s March were forming around the National Art Gallery, which is where we wanted to go and we thought it didn’t look too bad. We got into the museum, perused for an hour or two, and didn’t realize why the bathroom lines were getting so long. Once we stepped out, we were in the middle of a sea of signs, hats, and chants. There were four of us so we all tightly held hands as we tried to maneuver our way through the crowd. We saw many different, creative, and inappropriate signs, my favorite being a Hillary Clinton cutout saying “Tawanda”.

It took us around 20 minutes to get to the designated spot we would meet up with the rest of our group. We actually lost a teacher in a crowd who had to uber back to us because they were closing down metro stations. As we waited, we saw people climbing into trees to take pictures and get a better look at the crowd. I had never seen that many people before in my life.

Apparently, there were many celebrities there, my teachers saw Macklemore speak on a microphone, but there was no chance you could spot them in that kind of crowd. Even describing it is just so overwhelming, there were so many sights and sounds. This movement also could be described by one article of clothing: pink hats. There were so many variations, no two were the same because they were all handmade. Where I was, it was a very peaceful protest, there wasn’t a riot or any kind of violence; in other areas, it’s not my place to say.

At both events, you could feel the history happening. One was an example of an age old tradition of the peaceful transition of power that our forefathers were unsure whether it would work or not, and another was an example of using our first amendment that many have died to protect. It was a historical week, and I have the Close-Up Tour to thank for it.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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