Hundreds of thousands of people descended upon the nation’s capital Friday morning to witness the swearing in of President Donald J. Trump. Among the crowds were many vocal, passionate young people whose reactions ranged from accusatory to full on #MAGA apparel models.
While President Trump faired worse among young voters than most recent election winners, that didn’t stop millennials from coming out on a cold, rainy day in January. Among those who trekked to Washington, D.C., were two high schoolers who drove all the way from Naples, Florida, to witness the historic day.
Too young to vote but old enough to understand the division, Ryan McNickles, age 17, reflected on what Trump’s speech signified, saying it was “really good, especially because of how controversial he is… his speech was about unity for the American people.”
His friend, 18-year-old Chris Uhlar, donned his “TRUMP” flag as a cape and called the moment and the speech “powerful.”
The oversized TRUMP flags were in abundance, and met with jeers or applause depending on what crowd you happened to be walking by.
Philip James and Adam Leech, both 21-years-old and from Tennessee, came to D.C. for the inauguration to experience the excitement first hand.
“I think this was a victory for America,” said Leech as the two held their newly purchased flag.
While the streets of Washington, D.C. were dotted with the infamous red #MAGA hats on Friday the 20th, they were also occupied by many less than elated about Trump’s ascension to the presidential office.
Max Lombardo and Kaitlyn Rembcki were quick to admit that their sign attracted stares, comments, and a few close encounters.
“Trump represents everything that’s the exact opposite of everything I stand for” said Lombardo. “There’s the racisim, sexism, … they think he’s going to help the middle class, all of these things seem absurd to me.
While their home-made sign said “Putin picked our President,” Rembcki, age 24, said that even though “he’s our president, I’m not gonna deny that,” he and his friends will do “everything [they] can” to continue to voice their concern.
Eye-catching and attention-grabbing signs seemed to be the order of the day for those who came out against President Trump on his inauguration day, and many were sure to take advantage of our new President’s unsavory sexual comments that were leaked in the weeks leading up to the election.
Giovanna Lively, age 26 and from Newport News, held a crass sign and said, “A lot of people have stopped to take pictures [with the sign].” Lively, right after smiling to a passerby, greeted her with a “grab her by the pu**y!”
Luke Morris, age 19, and Nick Goble, age 20, found themselves on the national mall in the hours following President Trump’s inauguration, but planned their trip to D.C. months ago when they thought that the outcome would be different.
“I still came anyways to be here and see what it was going to be like,” said Morris, a Florida native.
“Trump doesn’t make me as nervous as the people he surrounds himself with… the environment he creates in the United States,” said Goble, alluding to protests he’d seen earlier in the day and the acts of violence that happened in D.C. in the hours following the inauguration and at sporadic times throughout the election.
And violence stole the spotlight different times throughout the day in the city.
One student on the way to catch a glimpse of the inaugural parade, found himself near one of the riots on K Street and was “sucker-punched” by a protestor who was “giving [him] a hard time.”
Trevor Dodge, age 21, said his message to protestors and people hesitant about the new President is “be optimistic, give him a chance.”
Among the hundreds of thousands, the supportive and those who yelled their concerns and resorted to violence, there were the few who didn’t fit into either category and noticed the historic day as a chance to tout a cause or viewpoint.
“I just found this, and I’m kinda just goin’ with it. That’s all I really have,” said Mike Evans, age 20, with a shrug.
When it was pointed out that his sign that he “found” was in contradiction with the “Make America Great Again” hat on his head, the student claimed he was there to “offer contradicting viewpoints… get a reaction out of people.”
If “getting a reaction out of people,” a move that could seemingly have come from the new Presidents campaign strategy, then the success was as great as the sales of “MAGA” hats.