The Inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States was the first major political event I have ever attended.
As a reporter, the experience felt almost distanced. I was there, taking photos and speaking to those around me, but my purpose of witnessing the actual inauguration was different from those around me. I was surrounded by people who felt the need to be there because of support for Trump, support for failed presidential candidates or allegiance to the United States itself. The passion I was able to find in this mixed bag was incredible. It gave me something to capture and something to appreciate in my journalistic endeavors.
The day of the inauguration, we woke up early to catch a metro ride. The station was surprisingly empty — we were forewarned about the possible crowds and the difficulty of getting into the city on an important day. Once in the city we picked a queue to join and began the long wait for the entrance of the capitol.
As we ever-so slowly moved towards the access point, we noticed some changes in mood. The once empty streets now had military members lined up, and the sound of sirens could be heard in the distance. We soon learned that protesters had turned to rioters, smashing windows, burning a limo and and receiving the response of police force.
At this point, we were about halfway to the entry, and I felt both antsy and blessed by the fact that I had dodged the rioting. As a journalist, I felt a need to be the first to the scene, in the heart of danger so that others could know the details of the event. As a college student from a suburb in Texas, I felt quite the opposite, and was suddenly unnerved by the nonviolent protesters nearby.
The time spent in line eventually passed. I raced to get closer to the capitol building, stopping only to glance up at the large TV monitors set up along the National Mall and to capture the reactions of those listening to the inaugural acceptance speech. Once I reached a barrier along a street I had the chance to fully listen and capture the emotions of those around me for the continuation of the speech.
People began to disperse shortly after Trump finished his speech. I stood still though, holding the camera to my eye and scanning the horizon for interesting subjects. Leaving that spot so soon felt wrong to me, and I no longer felt as though I were only there as an outside entity, and suddenly felt the passion I had seen in those I had been surrounded by earlier. By pursuing my own personal passion of photography, I was given the opportunity to be a journalist. I was given the chance to witness history and was able to do my part to preserve it.