I have been to every inauguration since President Nixon's first one in 1969. At that time I was a Harvard Law School student. I saw Nixon inaugurated at a distance and enjoyed the fellowship of my fellow students.
Attending an inauguration can be quite an ordeal if one takes in the events surrounding it, but my wife and I decided to attend one last inauguration this week.
I bundled up more for this inauguration than when I go goose hunting in South Dakota. I walked two miles to get there. It was chilly and raw. We stood in long security lines to get into the inaugural area. Even though we were in the front, our chairs were in the grass, which turned to mud in the 46-degree heat wave we are experiencing. Once inside the secured area, we couldn't leave for almost three hours. We stood within an arm's length of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The rain was forecast to be heaviest at noon, right when President Trump was scheduled to take the oath of office. Right on cue, it started to drizzle as he started to speak. (No, his hair did not change color.)
Most of us were well equipped with rain gear and boots, but no umbrellas were allowed for security reasons.
The highlight for me was listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's performance. Their rendition of "America The Beautiful" stirred me. When we left the ceremony, we had to slowly slog through the crowds to get home. We managed to get a taxicab and began to relax and warm up. But as we exited the parade route, we were accosted by anti-Trump demonstrators. They were throwing rocks and bricks at cars and storefront windows. They were setting fire to trash cans. I imagine if the protestors had known a former senator was in the car, they probably would have directed their anger at me.
We went from the most secure place in the world — Donald Trump's strong speech, magnificent hymns and speeches, the presence of four presidents and the ambiance of a historic inauguration — to virtually being a captive in a small taxicab trapped in snarled traffic caused by protesters sitting on the street at 14th and M street NW in Washington. Finally we got out and walked three blocks to get beyond the protesters and got another taxi home. Very frightening to see bricks hurled just moments after leaving the secure inaugural grounds. What a contrast and all within three hours.
Still, I am still thrilled by our Constitution and our government. The whole scene at the inauguration — the chilly rain, the struggle to get to the event and to get safely home, the magnificent choir, the speeches, the solemn ceremony, the view of the vista of the mall in our nation's capital, the sight of demonstrators hurling bricks a few blocks away — all said to me that we need to keep working and praying. We had a successful inauguration and we will have many successful days ahead. But we will have to struggle, endure some strife and ask God to be with us.
There will always be problems in our republic, but we can overcome them with hard work, prayer and perseverance. Our country, like almost every other country in the world, continues to struggle to mature as a democracy. It has not and it will not be easy.