I had to be in Washington to witness Donald Trump become our nation's 45th President. I am a New York Republican who volunteered up to 21 hours a day to help Trump win the Republican presidential nomination and ultimately the presidency.
Being in Washington for the inaugural activities filled me with many emotions and observations.
Several times, I found myself moved to tears.
Seeing Trump place his hand on the Bible and take the oath of office was the end result of the exhausting work I did last year. It felt like something I had made a reality. It was exciting, rewarding, and miraculous.
As Trump gave his inaugural address, it became clear that Trump intends to keep his campaign promises. I expect politicians to backpedal on their campaign promises. His decision to reaffirm those promises produced more tears of joy and pride.
Surrounded by iconic symbols of our great nation, Lee Greenwood's performance of “God Bless the U.S.A.” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial also brought me to tears.
Volunteering on the Trump campaign, I came to know Trump supporters as mostly being good, decent people with a passionate love for this nation. At the swearing-in ceremony, I found myself in a sea of people wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats. By the thousands, those hats came off the moment anyone started to sing the National Anthem, say the Pledge of Allegiance, or offer a prayer.
Sometimes my fellow Trump supporters embarrassed me. Some booed Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Charles Schumer.
As a Republican in Manhattan, I am well-acquainted with how painful it is to lose an election. Clinton and Sanders were dignified in their loss, and they deserved to be treated with dignity.
Not everyone lost with dignity.
Protesters blocked the entrance to the swearing-in ceremony. I discreetly flashed my tickets to a National Guard member. A mix of soldiers and police officers had to get me through the wall of protesters to attend the swearing-in ceremony.
The media seems far more interested in reporting on the size of the crowd on the mall, but I have seen few stories on the blocked entrances to the National Mall.
Except for the blocked entrance, I otherwise encountered few protesters until I tried to leave Washington. I missed my train due to protesters clogging streets and the Metro the day after the inauguration. I did not attend the Deploraball, which seemed to be the focus of the worst protests.
Waiting to see the President at the Freedom Ball reminded me of waiting to see the ball drop in Times Square. Both required waiting hours in a prime viewing location.
I had to be careful purchasing souvenirs. The cheap ones were for the Clinton-Kaine Inauguration. I could not imagine why these were produced more than two months before the event.
I think I received my tickets to the swearing-in ceremony from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who boycotted the ceremony. I am thankful his office gave me this experience.
Stephen M. Evans III is the New York Republican State Committeeman in the 75th Assembly District and a former city council candidate.