A presidential inauguration only comes around once every four years, and several local residents wanted to be sure to see it in person.
Among those making the trip to Washington, D.C., for Friday’s event are Brady Riley, 18, a senior at Crothersville High School; Jacoby Gillis, 19, a 2015 Crothersville graduate studying management at Purdue University; and Tim Molinari, 19, a 2016 Seymour High School graduate studying aviation and flight technology at Indiana State University.
Riley and Gillis are traveling to the nation’s capital together after receiving tickets from Indiana Ninth District Congressman Trey Hollingsworth, while Molinari will be going with about 100 ISU students through the American Democracy Project.
Riley said in the fall, he started thinking about attending the inauguration. The day after Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States, Riley looked into what he needed to do to make it happen and found someone to go with him.
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“Just to see something like that happen would be something that you’re going to remember, so that’s mainly why I wanted to go out there,” Riley said.
Gillis said he considered going to the inauguration long before the election results came out.
“I have been a long follower of the Trump and (Hillary) Clinton race, one of the most historical races, in efforts that I could vote for the candidate that would reflect our country well and one that would do well in favor of the American people,” Gillis said. “I have not been to a political event this big and am excited to experience it. I’m sure the environment will busy and chaotic.”
Molinari said he saw a flier at school about an inauguration trip, which would cost $40 round trip by charter bus, and thought it would be a great opportunity.
“Since I have never been to an inauguration before, I figured I might as well take this opportunity to go,” he said. “I figured that this would be the perfect time to go see a presidential inauguration, especially for $40 being a college student.”
On Thursday, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and later will speak before a concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
Then at 9:30 a.m. Friday, the presidential inauguration ceremony kicks off outside the U.S. Capitol. Officials estimate more than 800,000 will attend the event, which features several speakers and musical selections before Pence and Trump take their oaths of office.
Trump then will deliver his inaugural address, followed by a few more speakers and the singing of the national anthem.
In terms of gaining an interest in politics, Riley said it started with the 2012 presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Since then, he has associated with the Republican Party.
“My family didn’t really sway me to one side or the other. It was just I thought my views aligned better with one party better than the other did,” he said.
Gillis said he was drawn to politics while taking a political science class at Purdue. He then volunteered to help with a local campaign.
“I think I always have considered myself conservative due to my strong views on our Second Amendment rights and other topics,” he said.
Molinari said he has followed politics since Obama was first elected president in 2008.
“I’ve stayed pretty neutral when it has come to what party I am a part of. I never vote straight ticket,” he said.
This past year, Riley was able to vote for the first time. He said it was good timing with all of the interest surrounding the race between Trump and Clinton. He also helped with a couple of campaigns in Jackson County and the Ninth District race.
“It was just awesome to watch it all play out, go door to door and do all of that stuff, and then to finally watch it all come together on election night,” he said.
Gillis said he spent most of this past summer volunteering for a local campaign, including participating in parades, calling polls, distributing signs and more. He also followed the presidential race.
“The race was definitely one to remember,” he said. “I feel that the results were a good representation of the change that is needed for America. 2016 was an eventful year, and I think that there is a lot to change and improve in 2017.”
Before the Indiana primary election in the spring, Molinari attended presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s rally in Franklin. At various events in the past, he met Bill Clinton and Pence and saw Romney and Mitch McConnell.
During the 2016 presidential race, Riley and Gillis both said they were Trump supporters.
Riley said he was a little shocked with the final results because a lot of polls leaned toward Hillary Clinton becoming president.
“Then when (Trump) started getting those states on election night, I was like, ‘This is actually happening,'” he said, adding that he thought Pence was “a solid choice” for vice president.
When Trump won, Gillis said he became excited at the thought of what a new administration could bring to the country.
“Trump brought a new level of support for a section of the country that I believe had been unsupported for many years,” he said.
Molinari said he had mixed thoughts on the election outcome.
“When Mr. Trump was named president, I was initially disappointed in the election process and electoral college, but I mean, whatever happens, happens,” he said. “The entire election, I’ve leaned more on the Democratic side of things, although I wasn’t a big supporter of either candidate.”
But when Trump named Pence his vice president, Molinari said that made the election results “a little less bitter.”
“Throughout his political career in Indiana, I have always been a supporter of Mr. Pence because of how he was able to keep the I-69 road construction from Evansville to Indianapolis moving during his time as governor,” he said.
For Riley and Gillis, this will be their second trip to Washington, D.C., while it will be Molinari’s third time there.
“I hope to use this opportunity to capitalize on the experience and use it to my advantage,” Gillis said. “I hope that there may be new connections come from this trip, maybe not in D.C., but a reference to use later in life.”
Molinari said he’s excited to add attending an inauguration to his list.
“I am a supporter of the office of the president of the United States no matter who is in office regardless of party affiliation,” Molinari said.