Politics & Government

Central Pennsylvanians travel to D.C. for Trump’s ‘monumental inauguration’

Spectators await President Donald Trump during the 58th Presidential Inauguration on Friday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Spectators await President Donald Trump during the 58th Presidential Inauguration on Friday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. psheehan@centredaily.com

For Cheyanne Brumbaugh and her dad, Corey, being at President Donald Trump’s inauguration was a chance to witness a part of history.

It was a chilly, gray day in the nation’s capital — with spurts of drizzle thrown in for good measure, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of those who made the journey from central Pennsylvania to see democracy in action.

Corey Brumbaugh, 48, of Huntingdon County, called it “a monumental inauguration.”

Cheyanne, 21, is a senior at Juniata College, majoring in business and politics. Corey said it was important to him to get her to the inauguration for her career and life aspirations.

She said it was “a blessing” to witness members of their party take the oath of office, but she would’ve taken the opportunity if it came up regardless of who was being inaugurated.

“It’s always a privilege and an honor ... to be a part of this constitutional process,” said U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township.

The inauguration showcases the principles of democracy and having a peaceful transfer of power, he said. And it’s done in a very public way.

“It’s something we should never protest, and we should always celebrate,” Thompson said.

“Make America Great Again” hats in red, white and blue speckled the crowd of supporters on Capitol Hill, with chants of “U-S-A” and “Trump” erupting at various points during the morning leading up to the ceremony.

“I think there’s a big criticism that the attendees would not be a diverse group of people and what was refreshing and very satisfying was to see just the breadth of our population being represented … . I think it was absolutely astonishing. It was a diverse group of people, and it was very contrary to a lot of what is reported,” said Ron Banerjee, 51, of State College.

Banerjee, a Navy veteran, brought his 17-year-old son to the event to experience the chance of a lifetime, he said.

He described people as being “very hopeful and very upbeat.”

They’re looking forward to the change and having a greater voice in the government, Banerjee said.

In some in other parts of D.C., hope seemed distant. Protests turned destructive, and police were in riot gear.

“I truly understand how some people feel ... however, I believe that with any change — much as I felt when my friends who were pro-President (Barack) Obama asked me to give him a chance that’s what I would say. ... Healthy skepticism is never bad, you know, as long as it’s healthy and as along as they remain open-minded. There’s plenty of room for compromise, and I think things will get done, and give him a chance,” Banerjee said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Pam Khare, whose husband was a Pennsylvania elector.

She said at first she didn’t know if she could support Trump, but he won her over.

The more she listened to him speak, the more she realized that he wasn’t making sure he was saying the right things at the right time, “he was just saying things because they were true.”

“He was talking about the ordinary person, and I think that’s what touched me the most,” Khare, 63, of Warren, said.

His inaugural address, though relatively short — clocking in at about 15 minutes — had a theme of giving power back to the American people.

“The speech, I think, was inspirational. A lot of people ... give Donald Trump grief for his language, but I think he did an excellent job. I think he’s come a long way just in the last six months as far as being more … presidential, maybe. I hope that the parties — both sides — will actually get together and they’ll push the country forward,” Corey Brumbaugh said.

It’s all about the people, not the bureaucrats, said Sue Rhoades, a lifelong Republican from Tyrone, who worked on the Trump campaign.

She found the inauguration to be rewarding — “an awe moment feeling.”

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I guess it was on my bucket list,” Rhoades, 64, said.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz