Trump supporters 'finally have an opportunity to celebrate'
Susan Reneau hasn’t missed a presidential inauguration since she first attended on Jan. 20, 1977. That was the day President Jimmy Carter placed his hand on his family's Bible and took the oath of office.
Some years Reneau comes dressed in casual clothes – a jacket, a hat, a pair of gloves. On Friday, at the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump, she was decked out from head to toe in American flags, Trump pins, and a vest she got from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Reneau spent most of the morning wandering Union Square. She was joined by less than one million other attendees, though many of them were wowed by her patriotic glitz.
For Reneau, the inauguration represents a celebration democracy. Trump's inauguration was different: a time of joy punctuated by a sour aftertaste.
“Inaugurations are a joyful celebration of what America is, and I am disgusted by the senators and representatives who have decided to sit out,” said Reneau, a resident of Missoula, Montana. “It’s disrespectful to the office of the presidency. We (Republicans) didn’t sit out when Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into office.
"They’re absolutely acting juvenile.”
While many members of Congress tweeted or publicly spoke about not attending Trump's big day, Michigan representatives John Moolenaar and Dan Kildee attended the event.
"It was an honor to witness the historic and peaceful transfer of power at the Capitol today,” Moolenaar wrote in a press release. “Best wishes to President Donald Trump and his family as he takes on the enormous responsibilities and duties as our nation's president and Commander-in-Chief."
Kildee also expressed congratulations to Trump “after a bitter and partisan campaign." The Flint democrat also announced his participation in protests over the weekend.
“Like many, I have continued concerns with President Trump’s rhetoric and temperament,” Kildee wrote in a press release. “On Saturday, I will join thousands of Michiganders who are marching on Washington to speak out against the reckless policies President Trump has already prioritized that would take our country in the wrong direction.
"My constituents want me to hold the new President and Republicans in Congress accountable and I intend to do so over the coming years.”
A first for many
Angie Stofko and Julie Strasser from Cincinnati said the growing divide between political ideologies made them want to attend the inauguration. It was their very first time at such an event.
Strasser called members of Congress who didn't attend “shameful and disrespectful." She expressed distaste at those who did not “(want) to be a part of the American process.”
The pair have been Trump supporters since April 2016. They made the trek “just to celebrate it being over.”
“We’ve been beat up, called names and assaulted just for being Trump supporters, and I feel like we finally have this opportunity to celebrate,” Stofko said. “It’s great to be able to say what we want to say with a group of people who think and feel the same way."
Strasser is looking forward to a change in Washington.
“I’m tired of being politically correct," she said. "I'm tired for being persecuted for if you believe one way, it’s not the right way. Why can’t we all have our own beliefs and why should we be afraid to say what they are?
"Now, we finally have someone in office who says it’s OK to have beliefs and no one can beat you down for them.”
Change and vigorous nationalism were some of the ideas outlined in Trump's inaugural address. American isolationism struck a chord with Raleigh, North Carolina native Shawn Welch.
The owner of his own plumbing company, Welch said he supports Trump because he felt the businessman looked out for his own – namely, other business people.
“Being ‘America first’ means that we’re going to look after our people, our military, our boarders and success to make sure that a businessman like myself can stay strong and keep making strides,” he said. “In the next four years, I see this country turning around and I think there are some great things that are going to happen.”
Not all found Trump's word endearing. Outside the barricaded entrances, hundreds of protesters flooded the streets chanting slogans like “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” and “black lives matter.”
Protests started to turn violent near noon, as police arrested nearly 100 people and pepper sprayed others.
Protesters like San Francisco native Melyssa Jo Kelly, who was loud with her chants, but otherwise peaceful. A self-described activist, Kelly attended inaugurations since the swearing in of President John F. Kennedy and protesting since President Richard Nixon took office during the Vietnam War.
Kelly believes there has been a rise in “pure, undiluted racism,” resulting in Trump’s election, which started with myriad birther theories surrounding former President Barack Obama.
“We’re at a real turning point in history and because the United States is such a world dominating country, it’s not just our own domestic history but it affects the world,” she said. “This day is an international disgrace and it means we have to stand up and support each other.
"We have to show the world we will not let a fascist regime take over this country and go after vulnerable people. We will resist just like the French resisted the Nazis.”