Washington, D.C. — As Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Jan. 20, he promised to renew the country’s former greatness in an appeal as a champion of the common man.
“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people,” Trump said.
The potential for rain and numerous organized protests didn’t stop several hundred thousands of onlookers, including numerous Hillsdale students, from attending the historic event. Some Trump supporters stood for as long as six hours, huddled in coats and ponchos, waiting to hear the inaugural address. The crowd on the National Mall resembled an ocean of red because of the “Make America Great Again” hats.
Freshman Sam Barke, a volunteer on the presidential inauguration committee, stood on the press risers at the White House. While many people attending Friday’s event only saw President Barack Obama and Trump on a screen, Barke saw them in person, leaving the White House together after coffee.
“That was probably the highlight for me, seeing Obama leave the White House for the last time as president and see Trump enter the White House for the last time as president-elect,” he said.
Chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump,” and “USA!” echoed as Trump’s inauguration address drew near. In a continuation of election animosity, the crowd booed when President Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were introduced.
When Trump took the oath of office, the sea of Trump supporters raised their hands, waved American flags, and roared with cheers.
Junior Victoria Watson recalls the moment Trump was sworn in as surreal.
“There was a point when Trump had his hand on the Bible, and the whole capital was silent except for the protestors,” Watson said. “I was just overwhelmed with the fact that I was part of history.”
Right from the beginning of the speech, Trump thanked his supporters, promising to defend them in Washington and fight the political establishment.
“Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another,” he said. “But we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”
Not straying far from his campaign speeches, Trump repeated promises to bring back American jobs, put America first in foreign policy, strengthen the country’s borders, and heal the divisions in American society.
Much of the event also had a religious tone, with five Christian ministers and one Jewish rabbi offering prayers and readings from scripture. Trump also didn’t shy away from religious sentiments.
“There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected,” he said. “We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.”
Supporters came from all over the country to attend the inaugural ceremony.
Jamie Morrison of Boston, Massachusetts said he is hopeful for the president’s promise of restoring American prosperity.
“I think the jobs will be very key,” Morrison said. “If he does that in the first year, he has a very good chance of being re-elected in four years.”
Friday’s inauguration was the second for Allisa Redwick of Houston, Texas, who said she previously attended the inauguration of George H.W. Bush in 1988.
“I just want to see the Constitution protected,” Redwick said. “I want to see our First and Second Amendment rights empowered and protected. To me, that’s the most important thing.”
The inauguration attracted thousands of protesters, including Black Lives Matter activists, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters, various anarchist groups, and preachers calling those in line for the inauguration to repent for their sins. More than 200 protesters were arrested, and some reportedly “antifascist” protesters smashed windows and burned a limousine around the intersection of 12th and K streets in downtown Washington, D.C.
Rioting in Washington D.C. growing in Franklin Park area pic.twitter.com/UO1Zr4rUbM
— Philip DeVoe (@PhilipDeVoe) January 20, 2017
Barke said so many protesters amassed near the White House that many guests couldn’t get into their seats to view the inauguration parade. Later, he said, protesters harassed people in line for inauguration balls by shouting profanities at women and squirting those in line with water guns. Barke attended the official inaugural ball.
“Walking by the protestors, I couldn’t help but think, ‘You guys are the reason Trump won,’” Barke said.
Numerous other Hillsdale College students, including senior history major Drew Jenkins attended Friday’s inauguration. Jenkins said he thought the crowd on the mall was mostly tame but that he appreciated all of the law enforcement providing security at the event.
“That was one of the biggest things that stood out to me today, that there were so much law enforcement there,” he said. “There’s no way all those [police officers] were Trump supporters.”
Junior John Speer, along with juniors Macy Mount and Gionna Eden, appear in the background of Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” morning program.
“Ed Henry of Fox News interviewing people right next to us definitely helped to pass the time waiting for the inauguration to start,” Speer said. “It made the whole experience even more enjoyable.”
Looking forward, Tim and Vicki Swallows of Palm Beach, Florida, said they are confident about the future under Trump’s administration after hearing the inaugural address.
“We will back in four years to watch him swear in again,” Vicki Swallows said.