By Dan Hall
Special to Tribune
The theme of the 58th Presidential Inauguration was, “Uniquely American.” That theme recognized the symbolic importance of an American peaceful transition of executive power. The inaugural ceremony remains a “Uniquely American” expression of our constitutional system.
Observing, as I did on January 20, 2017, the peaceful relinquishing of executive authority, by Immediate Past President, Barack Obama, to the new President, Donald Trump, once again demonstrated to our country and the world that such peaceful transitions can happen, and indeed, are desirable. President Ronald Reagan said, in his 1981 inaugural address: “In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.”
Our Washington, D.C. trip went well and I never felt we were at risk by militant demonstrators as some 25,000 security officers kept the 300 to 400 “demonstrators” (read: anarchists) away from the over one million Americans who witnessed a peaceful transition of power. However, one couple reported they had missed over half the ceremony when “demonstrators” had blocked one of the security access points by interlocking arms while police stood by and did nothing.
We were provided Inaugural Ceremony tickets by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). Our tickets allowed us folding chairs set about 150 yards away from the podium on the west side of the U.S. Capital Building. Also, a giant TV screen was set up nearby providing close-up pictures of the people, performers, and activities surrounding the ceremony. All of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices, all the top leadership of the U.S .Congress, and the retiring president, the president-elect, and their families, plus Senator and Mrs. Bob Dole were all seated in back and to the sides of the podium. It was a sight to behold with our entire three branches of government gathered in one spot!
I noticed security helicopters continually circulating around the Capitol Mall, snipers situated on the outside of the Capitol Rotunda, and, at high altitude, I saw jet aircraft also providing security. A handful of “demonstrators” had gained access to the section next to ours but security quickly (within two minutes) ushered them out of the area when they began to chant slogans and hold up hateful signs.
Now when Melania Trump appeared on the platform in her strikingly beautiful blue dress, you heard a spontaneous applause (and even a few whistles). When I saw how beautiful she looked, my thought was that now we again have a First Lady with the beauty, charm, and style of Jackie Kennedy!
The new presidential inaugural address could be summed up in five words: “No more business as usual.” No more catering to special interests or groups. No more campaign promises, then inaction, as nothing gets done. To be patriotic is a good thing. He promised to not represent the Republican or Democrat establishment, but rather to only represent “we the people” of America. He concluded that he would always make every decision from the standpoint of what is in the best interests of the American nation and the American people. All told, the address lasted about 20 minutes.
In speaking with various citizens, from every region of America, here is what I heard they were hoping for from the new Trump Administration: (1) Improved, less costly health care, (2) a halt to new federal government regulations and review of current regulations, (3) improved international leadership by America, particularly in the Middle-East, (4) more decent paying jobs (5) educational choice leading to vastly improved student education, (5) rediscovery of personal ethics and moral values, (6) restored and improved roads, bridges, rails, and city water/sewer systems, (7) excitement about rebuilding our armed forces, plus genuine support of law and order, (8) real hope that America can become energy independent and not be dependent on outside energy sources including completing the Keystone Pipeline, and, (9) glad to see pledge to, “drain the Washington, D.C. swamp’” of greed, corruption, and influence peddling where moneyed interests dictate government laws and regulatory actions.
Overall, it is exhausting to travel and stay in Washington, D.C. for three days, but well worth the effort. To witness this miracle of the “Uniquely American” peaceful transfer of power is an event every American should try to experience once in a lifetime. I noted, with satisfaction, as the event ended that former President Barack Obama made a special effort to great and visit with frail looking former Senator Bob Dole seated in a wheelchair. It seemed to me that everyone involved with this, the 58th Presidential Inaugural, had put on their best selves and thereby were showing the country and the world what it means to be a truly civilized society.
Editor’s note: Tribune writer, Dan Hall and his wife, Phyllis Hall, participated in Presidential Inaugural activities this past weekend in Washington, D.C. This was Dan Hall’s fourth inaugural to attend. He attended inaugurations of President Ronald Reagan, President George H. W. Bush, and President George W. Bush. The previous was a report on Hall’s impressions of the inaugural and related activities.