Delawareans weigh in on the importance of making the trek to Washington for President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration and the Women's March, a counter event, on Saturday.
It’s tradition for Magnolia’s Michelle Devern to attend presidential inaugurations. Although she didn’t vote for celebrity entrepreneur Donald Trump, it won’t keep her from going to Washington on Friday.
“It’s a part of history,” the 32-year-old nurse said. “Just because I don’t like him doesn’t mean I can’t be a part of our country’s tradition.”
Devern’s first inauguration was on a cold rainy day in 2001 for George W. Bush’s swearing-in. She was 18.
“I remember being wet, but I didn’t even think about that. I was so excited to be there in the environment,” the former Georgetown resident said. “It was an emotional experience. There’s patriotic music. Everybody’s there in support of the country.”
Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration was Devern’s latest. Compared to Bush’s first, “it was even better. It was historical,” she said. “It was the first black president and it was history in the making.”
Billionaire in office
Trump, too, will make history Friday as the first billionaire sworn in as president, the country’s 45th. Milford resident and Kent County Republican Committee chairman Henry McCann will be there to witness it, wearing a whimsical elephant hat with a huge trunk.
“I’m 64 years old and I’ve never been to an inauguration,” he said. “I felt this would be the time because I was a delegate for the Republican Party in Cleveland when Donald Trump was being nominated.
“I was a delegate that helped nominate him to be our presidential candidate. So this is a closure for me to be able to go there and watch him get sworn in.”
They like him
McCann voted for Trump because of his ideals.
“In Republican values, they believe in the individual and the Constitution, and one of the big things for me is fiscal responsibility,” McCann said. “Those are Trump’s values.”
Fellow Republican Hans Reigle, who lost the 2016 congressional race to Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester, admitted Trump wasn’t his first choice during the primary season. But the celebrity billionaire eventually swayed him.
“I like the idea of appointing and having political outsiders as part of his administration,” said Reigle, of Dover, who plans to attend Trump’s inauguration. “I feel that there’s been stagnation caused in Washington due to the same folks getting recycled over and over again or being there too long.”
During his candidacy, Trump won the support of many with a promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Car Act with a better alternative.
But he’s made enemies with his remarks against minorities, Muslims, women and the LGBT community. As a way of getting Trump's attention about those topics, the Women’s March on Washington was assembled.
Saturday in downtown Washington the march aims to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” according to a statement from WomensMarch.com. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
Delaware, like the other 49 states, has its own Women’s March Facebook group. Carole Connor is an administrator for the Delaware chapter.
“Just from women in Delaware alone, we’ll have 1,000 or more going to march in Washington,” said Connor, a Washingtonian who now lives in Arden.
National news outlets speculate the march, set to begin at 10 a.m. on Independence Ave. and Third St. Southwest, might draw greater attendance than the inauguration.
“There are plans for marches in Delaware and I think in all 50 states,” Connor said. “There are also marches I think being planned in the UK. I expect to see hundreds of thousands of women from the response we’ve gotten.”
Connor used to do protests with the National Organization of Women, defending abortion clinics in Washington. The last time she took to the streets was over two decades ago.
“Twenty years later, I’m back at it because I feel we need it,” said Connor, 55, who’ll march holding a poster of an equal sign with rainbow colors. “I had to get involved. There’s such bigotry and hatred that I could not stand by and let it go unanswered.”
Connor is also aware of the possibility that Trump supporters might try to disrupt the march.
“There’s definitely that concern,” she said. “There are people who’ve had experience in peaceful marches that will be marching along with us to help dissipate the trouble.
“We’re also told there will be [American Civil Liberties Union] lawyers in case somebody [gets arrested]. You never know what’s going to happen. You think there’s going to be so many women and men who support it that it won’t be a problem.”
McCann said, “I believe [Trump] respects women and the LGBT community. I think he’s a great American and guy. If people want to go out and protest, let them protest – as long as it’s peaceful.”
Reigle said he isn’t against the march. He understands why people are turned off by Trump’s sharp tongue and “that is something about his personality I never appreciated,” Reigle said.
What does concern Reigle, he said, are the logistics on Friday.
“I’m going with my family and we’re taking the Metro in and I hope there are no disruptions due to volume or people not happy about the inauguration,” he said. “I hope it’s a safe, smooth day.”
The gates for the inauguration open at 6:30 a.m. with speakers beginning at 11:30 a.m.
DNG in DC
Security will be on high alert Friday.
The Delaware Army National Guard will send about 420 soldiers and airmen to Washington for duties such as crowd management and to verify that vehicles are authorized, said 2nd Lt. Wendy Callaway of the National Guard.
“We’re prepared for everything,” said 1st Lt. Kristina Jordan, of Wilmington. “I think people are united and there’s no reason for people to do anything [bad].”
Jordan is with the National Guard’s 1049th Transportation Company. It’ll be her first inauguration and she anticipates a peaceful event.
Capt. Shawn Rakes of the 262nd Component Repair Company doesn’t foresee any problems.
Having worked Obama’s last inauguration in 2013, which ran fine, “I’d expect the same,” Rakes said about Friday.