By SARAH DOOLITTLE
Four Points News
Steiner Ranch residents Carmen and Fernando Paz and Vandegrift graduate Bret Reinking separately attended the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday in Washington, D.C.
The Pazs were in D.C. for four days. “We arrived on Thursday,” explained Carmen. “We went to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. It was beautiful. It was packed. Very well-attended. I was very pleased with the security… And then we heard the president (elect) speak… Thursday night was fantastic.”
On Friday, despite giving themselves three hours to get into the inauguration, security lines were slow, which according to Carmen caused her family and thousands of others to miss the swearing in and most of President Trump’s speech. Overall, though, Carmen described the mood among the crowd as festive. “Mothers and husbands and children. Kids in suits. Everybody was pretty happy, very patiently waiting, very grateful for the security. There was no complaining about it.”
VHS 2015 grad Bret Reinking of Grandview Hills also attended the inauguration. He lives in Washington, D.C., while he attends Georgetown University and shared his impressions of the day’s events via his Facebook page.
“Our nation just inaugurated a new President, Mr. Donald J. Trump, and you could count me among the 550,000 or so spectators on the National Mall to witness it,” Reinking wrote.
Reinking, though politically divergent from Paz, was similarly positive about the inauguration.
“Being on the mall was, oddly enough, hopeful in its own way. There were a few protesters there, but they were peaceful and undisturbed. Not all of us were on the same side, but we got along. If everyone was like this, we just might not have too much to worry about. People sang “God Bless the USA” together, and there was nothing but applause at the sight of our outgoing president,” he posted.
After witnessing the historic day, Reinking reminded his friends and family that the United States remains a place of hope. “We should never believe a brighter future does not rest in our hands.”
Carmen Paz especially enjoyed witnessing the traditions of the inauguration. When the ceremony ended, Vice President Pence walked Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, to their limousine where they departed. President Trump then walked President and First Lady Michelle Obama to their helicopter, where they, “get into the helicopter and the helicopter takes off. Of course, when the helicopter took off, the crowd went wild because Obama was finally leaving Washington. That was one of the loudest cheers,” she said.
Carmen is a Cuban-American born to Cuban parents in Miami. As the child of immigrants, she said it was important to her to be at the inauguration, “to stand against the false narrative that only white men support Trump.” Though she added with a laugh that her sister voted for Clinton and, “To have to switch from Marco Rubio to Trump was hard for me personally. Marco Rubio’s from the same street (in Miami) that I’m from almost!”
“The Capitol was decorated beautifully with flags,” for the inauguration. “And the night before, after the concert… there was fireworks behind the Capitol, fireworks like I’ve never seen. Humongous. The whole sky said USA (in fireworks).”
She also described the event as feeling very safe and having National Guards as well as, “hundreds of police. I think they said that over 30 different police departments were represented,” (including officers from Austin Police Department.)
The subway was free for inauguration day to help encourage visitors to the Capitol to take the Metro instead of driving as many roads downtown were closed.
The Pazs also attended an unofficial inaugural ball at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. The ball was Great Gatsby themed and attended by approximately 1,500 people. “It was apolitical… There were no speeches. It was awesome.”
“(The inauguration) was beautiful and a very historic moment,” explained Carmen reverentially. “I was proud. I think I would have been happy to be at the inauguration had anybody won, because it’s such a fantastic country. And to have a peaceful transition of power is historic. So I was very proud to be an American and to witness that.”