Students from the Grace College and Seminary Student Senate attended the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Friday. Pictured (L to R) are, front row: Megan Carpenter, Chloe Alexander, Jonah Pettet, Director of Development Kearstin Criswell, Aaron Crabtree; back row: Christen Karako, Lydia Gard, Kirsten Mead, Elizabeth Mattia, Benjamin Tucker and Nicholas Choate. Photo provided.
Students from the Grace College and Seminary Student Senate attended the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Friday. Pictured (L to R) are, front row: Megan Carpenter, Chloe Alexander, Jonah Pettet, Director of Development Kearstin Criswell, Aaron Crabtree; back row: Christen Karako, Lydia Gard, Kirsten Mead, Elizabeth Mattia, Benjamin Tucker and Nicholas Choate. Photo provided.
Among the plethora of spectators at the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Friday was a small contingent of Grace College Student Senate members.
“It was very surreal. I couldn’t believe I was there and it was really happening,” political science major Kirsten Mead said in a telephone interview hours after the historic event was over.
It wasn’t the first time a Grace Student Senate has traveled to Washington, D.C., for an inauguration, she said. It’s become a tradition for the group to go when a U.S. president is sworn in.
“For a lot of people, it’s an exciting opportunity to be in D.C. A lot have never gone before. It was scheduled before the election and we knew who the winner was, but it would have been exciting regardless of who won,” she said, calling the capital a “cool city.”
The students and Director of Student Involvement Kearstin Criswell drove all day Thursday to get to D.C. They spent most of Friday there and were touring it today.
At the inauguration, Mead said, “We didn’t try to get in the midst of everything. We watched it on a Jumbotron, we didn’t have a live view, but we were still there in D.C., we were surrounded by people.”
Members of the Student Senate have different perspectives and backgrounds, so Mead didn’t want to speak for everyone in the group about Trump’s 15- to 20-minute speech.
As for herself, she said she was excited about some of the stuff he said and has hope for the next four years. There were a few things she didn’t agree with, specifically mentioning Trump’s line, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” She said patriotism wasn’t the answer to prejudice, but caring for others and love were.
Over 200 protesters were arrested Friday during the inauguration, but Mead said they weren’t in the midst of that.
“We did see it, we were aware of it happening, but we stayed a safe distance,” she said.
As the students walked down the sidewalk, she said they had the opportunity to walk by a peaceful group of protesters. One guy was giving a speech and others were holding up signs.
Mead said there were two perspectives to the protesters: On one hand, in the U.S. people have the right to do that; on the other hand, she said it was sad some were so heartbroken by Trump’s inauguration that they felt they had to protest.
The Grace students weren’t the only locals to attend the inauguration.
Republican 3rd District Congressman Jim Banks issued a statement after attending the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president, Trump, and the 48th vice president, Mike Pence.
Banks said, "I was honored to attend today's Inauguration and personally witness the peaceful transition of power, a great American tradition. Regardless of politics, all Americans can appreciate and celebrate that our government is limited, and the Constitution ensures that our nation's leadership peacefully changes hands.
"This Inauguration is a special day for all Hoosiers, as one of our own is now serving as vice president. I congratulate my friend Vice President Mike Pence on officially beginning his new role, and I am confident that Indiana's influence will be felt in Washington for years to come,” Banks said.
"Today marks a new day for our country and a new opportunity to come together and confront the challenges we face. I look forward to working with President Trump and Vice President Pence on real solutions to issues like rebuilding our military, fixing health care, caring for our veterans and reforming our broken tax system."
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly released the following statement after attending the inauguration at the U.S. Capitol: “I congratulate President Trump and look forward to working with him to keep our country safe, strengthen our economy for Hoosier families, and protect jobs here at home – issues I've been focused on for years.”
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, 2nd District, released the following statement: “With President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the White House, the American people have leaders who will fight for them. The new Republican government is unified around a positive vision for a stronger America and laser-focused on jobs, national security, and our veterans.
“We have an historic opportunity to change the status quo in Washington and deliver real solutions that make a difference in people’s lives. I couldn’t be more excited to work with my colleagues and the Trump administration to support American jobs, keep our nation safe, and get veterans the care they earned.
“Dean and I wish President Trump, Vice President Pence, and their families all the best on this historic day.”