WASHINGTON D.C. — “Hail to the Chief” rang out over the National Mall shortly after President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office.
In his first address as President of the United States, Trump told listeners Friday’s ceremony marked the beginning of a transition of power from the Washington establishment back to the people.
Change began Friday, he said.
“This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country,” Trump said.
As President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were inaugurated Friday, thousands congregated at the country’s National Mall to watch.
Among them were Hancock County residents who traveled roughly 500 miles to partake in the ceremony.
Members of Congress handed out 250,000 free tickets to the ceremony, and a handful of local residents jumped at the chance.
By the time November’s election arrived, Fortville resident David Hawkins was tired of the arguing — it was such a long election cycle, he said.
But on Nov. 9, he woke up feeling optimistic about the country’s future.
Friday, he was among hundreds of thousands of Americans who eagerly watched President Donald Trump’s term begin; that optimism only grew.
Hawkins received tickets to the inauguration from Sen. Joe Donnelly; a friend invited him to stay at his home in Richmond, Virginia, which made the trip affordable and worthwhile.
He originally planned to drive to D.C., but his wife surprised him with plane tickets for Christmas.
He watched as a Hoosier became vice president and said he hopes with Trump and Pence at the helm, the economy will improve.
Trump’s first speech as president resonated with Hawkins, who believes Trump will act on many of his campaign promises.
Watching history unfold was an experience Hawkins won’t soon forget.
“It’s something you can tell your children, your grandchildren where you were and what you did,” he said. “It was amazing.”
After spending months helping to push Trump’s Indiana campaign, Hancock County resident Carolyn Flynn wanted to celebrate the capstone to his victory, to stand alongside supporters who believe as she does — that the nation’s 45th president could make America great again.
And so, she set out to find a way to watch the president take the oath of office.
She asked folks she met through the campaign if they could help — it’s a small world, she thought, and she hoped someone whose political views she shared might have a connection; sure enough, she got her hands on a ticket. It arrived last week, bringing her one step closer to the moment she had imagined.
Last year, Flynn delivered some 3,000 signs to Trump supporters from Vevay to Muncie. She led the Pledge of Allegiance at his Indianapolis rally last spring.
Watching Trump get sworn in Friday in the country’s capital would be icing on the cake, she said ahead of the inauguration. A well-deserved reward for months of hard work.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Flynn said. “This is the end result.”
She and her husband, Mike, didn’t stay on the Capitol grounds to watch the ceremony. Instead, they opted to watch it on TV in a D.C. restaurant, away from the crowds and rain.
A former elected official, Hancock County resident Jane Klemme has always wanted to go to Washington, D.C., for a presidential inauguration. The former auditor of Fayette County, Klemme looked upon the swearing in of the president as a chance to witness history.
So when an opportunity arose to travel with state Rep. Tom Saunders, who is taking a group of Indiana residents to the country’s capital, Klemme knew she had to go.
Two buses drove Hoosiers to D.C. for the weekend’s events.
Traveling with a friend, Klemme had tickets to two formal events being held in honor of the ceremony; she also planned to attend a congressional luncheon with lawmakers representing the Hoosier state Saturday.