An Elkin family took a road trip to Washington, D.C., recently to attend their third presidential inauguration, watching as President Donald Trump took his oath of office and gave his first speech as the new leader of the country.
“It was very pleasant and very nice,” said Frank Beals, a member of the Elkin City Schools Board of Education. Beals along with his wife, Lisa, and youngest daughter, Chandler Ann, left late on Thursday night and drove through the night to get to D.C. in time for the inauguration.
This was the second inauguration for Chandler Ann, who was a newborn when she attended the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. Beals said his other daughters, Courtney, who is now in college, and Cameron, who is a senior at Elkin High School and had a test she couldn’t miss this year, both attended the first and second inaugurations of Bush.
“I’d taken my older two daughters in their life, and there is only one more opportunity to take the youngest before she moves on to college,” Beals said of why the three family members took the trip to D.C. this year.
He said he would have taken the family to the inaugurations of President Barack Obama, but already knew what it was like to cope in a crowd of 800,000 people and double that number was expected for Obama’s swearing in.
“It was noticeably a smaller crowd,” Beals said of Trump’s inauguration. “We looked back toward the Washington Monument, and it looked pretty full of people but it was obvious it was a smaller crowd.”
His daughters, Cameron and Chandler Ann, attended the Women’s March on Washington the day following the inauguration, and Beals said he was glad Chandler Ann got to experience both events. “I felt like there were more protesters that were ugly on the day of the inauguration than the next day,” he said. “There was a lot of bickering and fighting, and one group tried to block the entrance way into the red gate to get in the red section as we were approaching the gate. It made for an interesting time to go into that.”
Beals said they didn’t see any of the rioting, but did see little arguments.
When attending the two inaugurations of Bush, Beals said the family had tickets for the silver zone, which was on the left side of the reflection pond. This year, they were able to get tickets in the red zone, which was just three sections back. “Where we stood for this one, you couldn’t tell who the speaker was, but you could see them on the stage, and we had a jumbotron screen near us.”
He said Trump and Bush both being Republicans wasn’t the deciding factors on why the family chose to attend the inauguration, instead it was a chance to see something important. “I’m Republican and my wife is a Democrat, so we are in a split family. If we had had a Democrat get in, and we thought we could still get in there with 800,000 people, we would have gone,” said Beals.
In listening to Trump’s inaugural speech, Beals said there was a difference between it and what typically is shared by new presidents. “Normally when you go to the inaugural speech, you hear some specific agendas and taxes. In this case, it was more a generic big picture kind of thing. It didn’t have quite the same feel to it. Rather than hearing about education, and he was going to fight for things, in many ways it was more philosophical, like factories are tombstones.
“There were some things in there, but it didn’t feel as driven on a specific plan. It was more big world stuff than programs,” Beals said. “It was not a riveting speech. It was just simpler.”
He did say the music was nice, and he recognized it seemed more choreographed than in the past.
Despite the threat of rain, it only sprinkled a couple of times and they never had to wear their ponchos.
“It was very pleasant,” Beals said of the event. “It was a nice simple event. It was a good experience, and my daughter got to see both aspects of it and that was very positive.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.