This month Hebrew Academy sophomore Raquel Zohar traveled to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. She went with Envision, an educational youth leadership group that strives to involve students in interactive world experiences. Zohar shared her experience with The Warrior Word.
On January 20th, 2017, throngs of protestors and pro-Trump supporters galvanized on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to witness the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Donald John Trump. Our country’s practice of the peaceful transfer of power has opened us up to a time of new beginning and new leadership, a new order and a new era.
Inauguration Day was an unparalleled day of bustling streets, terrible traffic, and immense commotion. Coach buses chock full of people lined street curbs, and blaring horns emanating from the boundless stream of traffic on Maine Avenue woke D.C. up hours before dawn; even more people exited Metro stations. Police cars with earsplitting sirens and their iconic shining red and blue lights were stationed on every block within five miles of the National Mall, and SWAT vans every few blocks. Due to road closures, Secret Service Agents organized for students riding buses to descend their respective buses at the checkpoint stationed at Benjamin Banneker Park. There, thousands poured out onto the surrounding streets, including myself, horrified to realize that we were directly enveloped in frigid temperatures and light rain. The trek of a couple miles from the park to the National Mall was reminiscent of the exodus of Egypt in numbers and Antarctica in temperature, and upon arrival to the National Mall, torrential rain began to fall.
The ticketed spectator areas were outfitted in white standing surfaces that appeared to be snow from afar, a real bummer to a Floridian when I realized what it actually was. Enormous speakers and monitors were set up on the Mall as visual and auditory aids. Air Force Pilots, Marines, and Military Officers aided Washington’s police forces and the Secret Service in ensuring security and providing surveillance on the Mall itself. Both excitement and apprehension were palpable, despite drab skies and the continual cold temperatures.
Smaller crowds of expectant onlookers merged to form a single sea of faces that gravitated towards Capitol Hill. The sea of people flowed onwards with mob manners as though never ending, pushing and shoving to get to the front of their allotted sections. Despite the perspectives shared in the uproar regarding exactly how many people attended the inauguration, I can say with subjective certainty that there were at least half a million, if not nearly one million people there. Together with the rest of the students attending my program, I stood in the narrow section behind the Hill’s reflecting pool. I had close to no personal space, I was enveloped in an absolutely frigid atmosphere, and I was surrounded by thousands of determined and strong-willed individuals arguing about how constitutional Trump’s plans actually were.
A horde of ardent Mexican protesters with signs displaying sentiments like, “Trump making America hate again” and “Can’t build a Wall, Hands too Small” encompassed themselves in the Mexican Flag and joined together to sing the National Anthem of the United States. One woman with deep Republican convictions advocated for Trump’s plans and made shouting at the monitors “I VOTED FOR YOU!” a habit.
“Trump knows what the hell he’s doing,” said Rayanna Jameson, an Idaho native. “If anyone says otherwise, they’re (expletive) wrong. We need change and we’re finally getting it.”
After hours of apprehension, excitement, and continual disagreement, Trump and our new First Lady, who dressed very similarly to Jackie Kennedy Onassis for the event, arrived at the Hill. The procession ensued and as members of the newly-inaugurated first family made their entrances, supportive cheers and opposing boos manifested from the crowds of people. Particularly when Ivanka made her entrance, all united in exhibiting their support through cheering. The crowd was mainly indifferent to the rest of Trump’s children, besides for Barron who now has multiple memes of himself to indulge in. The Obamas entrance onto the Hill was greeted with immense support and shouts of “Don’t abandon us!” and “I love you!” As Obama greeted the Clintons, all began “oohing” as the monitors focused on Hilary.
Trump’s ascension to communicate his inaugural address was paired with the restarting of rainfall, which some jeeringly claimed to be a symbol of mourning.
“I’m telling you, this is a sign,” said Jose Velez, a protester and onlooker at the inauguration “These drops of rain represent all the tears that’ll be shed when people start getting deported for wanting a better life. My aunt and uncle are illegal but my cousin, who is three years-old, was born here. What happens when they get deported?”
Trump’s address sat well with some of the attendees, overlooking the fact that it was pouring for all sixteen minutes of his speech. He essentially focused on the ways he planned to “Make America Great Again,” while denoting what has failed in the last eight years, a method scrutinized later on that day by democrats. Issues of disagreement connoted into the next day as well, as half a million women gathered for the Women’s March on Washington.
“I am not a proclaimed Democrat or a proclaimed Republican because I don’t like labels, they complicate everything. The label I hate the most, however, is being labeled inferior because I am female,” said Mikayla Whittington, a 26 year-old graduate student from UNC at Chapel Hill. “I marched yesterday because inequality has been something I’ve encountered on numerous occasions, and honestly, I’m sick of it. I don’t get paid the same at my waitressing job as the guys working there do, I never spoke up in forums where people were mostly male, and this was because I felt inferior. I marched for me and I marched for my rights.
Though our country is arguably a tumultuous place in today’s day and age, we must unite as one and see that our political rights are maintained. When Trump said “We are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people,” he acknowledged our political rights. Political rights are human rights, and human rights are our rights and exercising our rights is the basis of the fabric of this country. Let us hope that the next four years, or potentially eight years, will be filled with American success, strengthened ties to Israel, and a better way of life for we, the people.
By: Raquel Zohar (10th grade)