COLUMN: Inauguration, Women's March an experience I'll never forget

I’ve covered many different events in my career as a journalist, but nothing as important as what I did over the weekend.

Myself and eight other Central Michigan journalism students were given the opportunity to cover the inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington in our nation's capital.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank CMU journalism professor Teresa Hernandez and the Journalism Department for bringing me along on this trip. I am forever thankful.

As I type this column, I get chills of the experience to cover two moments that will go down in American history forever.

During the inauguration, I had the privilege of talking to people from all over the country. I met a black husband and wife from Atlanta who only attended the inauguration because they weren’t refunded for their hotel room they purchased when they thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president.

Even though they didn’t vote for Donald Trump, they were there — still supporting him because that’s what they believed was the right thing to do.

I met people from Boston, to Florida, to Tennessee, to Alaska, to Oakland and many other places. To see people drive countless hours and travel hundreds of miles to witness these moments was a privilege.

I watched as protesters blocked the entrance of the inauguration and flooded the streets to oppose a man they feared didn’t have their best interests at heart.

It was truly an amazing experience, and I thought I had seen it all.

Then, Saturday happened.

In all of the years that I have covered sporting events that have come down to the final shot, athletes breaking records, police stand offs and even the inauguration the day before, nothing compared to what I witnessed during the women’s march.

It took us over two hours to get downtown from the train station — where the day before it had only taken us 45 minutes to an hour.

The trains were so packed, they had to shut down certain stops because of overcrowding.

You could barely move around once you were in the city. On every corner and every street as far as the eye could see, there were people marching together in solidarity — fighting for the rights of not just women, but people of color, the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups.

Everywhere you looked there was a woman, man and even children sporting the famous “pussy hats” in opposition to Trump’s remarks made on a bus years ago that surfaced during his campaign.

The protesters walked, rolled in wheelchairs and even walked on crunches — holding their signs high and shouting as loud as they could to show their distaste and tease the president.

To get a better view of just how many people were there, my colleague and I went to the top of a bridge and gazed at the sea of protesters and clever anti-Trump signs.

It was truly a sight to behold.

These protesters were not afraid to do or say what they felt. They argued with Evangelists who told them they would go to hell for their sins.

I stood right in the middle of a heated battled of words between the protesters and the Evangelists as each side yelled back at the other – almost coming close to fighting – in an attempt to have their voices heard.

Some of the protesters of same-sex couples even kissed in front of a sign that read “Homo Sex is a Sin”. The amount of support these protesters gave each other in the face of hatred was amazing.

It gave me goosebumps.

Not because it was a fierce protest — everyone has witnessed one of those — but because I was witnessing a moment that I would be able to tell my grandchildren about. I was witnessing a moment so powerful and so intense, it required me to take deep breaths to calm myself.

Not every journalist — especially students — got the chance to witness first-hand two impactful moments in America’s history, and I am humbled by that fact.

This trip opened my eyes to just how special journalism is.

Each person I interviewed, whether they were for Trump, a protester or just there because they wanted to witness it, had a unique story to tell. I’m glad my colleagues and I were given the chance to tell their stories.