Beth (Dorcey) Riley takes a selfie from her vantage point of the presidential inauguration Friday [Jan. 20, 2017]. Though rain was predicted, only a few sprinkles fell during President Trump's speech.
Riley, tractors represent Nebraska at Trump inauguration
by Nathan Arneal
The Donald Trump era has officially begun, and there was at least one North Bender among the throngs of people who gathered to witness the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States Friday.
Beth Riley is a 1994 graduate of NBC who moved back to North Bend in October. Early last summer, when she was living in Washington, D.C., working for the American Forest Foundation, she applied for tickets to the presidential inauguration through her congressman. Then she forgot about it.
“I put in for tickets and honestly didn’t give it another thought,” she said.
When Riley applied for tickets, she was hoping to see a different president being sworn in. She is not a Trump supporter. But that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for attending the event.
“For me, I really believe strongly that we have to come together as a country,” Riley said. “No matter what you believe, it’s a historical event. It’s bigger than any one candidate. This is about how we move forward.”
She still works for the American Forest Foundation remotely from North Bend,
“I decided it was a really awesome opportunity to witness history and to be here,” she said.
The tickets gained her access to a reserved area on the Mall that extended from the Capitol about halfway to the Washington Monument.
But first, there was security to pass through. And protesters.
“There were tons of protesters,” Riley said. “There were protesters who were actually chaining themselves together. So our security access point was closed down for like two hours. It made it really difficult for people to get in for a while, which was frustrating.”
She finally got onto the Mall by about 10:30 a.m. The reserved area featured a sound system and large video boards allowing people to see and hear the events taking place on the Capitol steps. It also had relatively easy access to porta-potties. It did not feature chairs.
“The only seated areas are basically for members of Congress,” she said.
Riley saw all the government dignitaries seated and the swearing in of the vice president and president during the ceremony, which lasted about an hour.
Besides President Trump and Vice President Pence, the parade feature military units, marching bands and other common parade hallmarks. There were also some John Deere tractors from Elkhorn, Nebraska.
“It was funny to see,” Riley said. “They were the only tractors in the parade and they were from Nebraska. I thought that was really interesting.”
And of course, there were the ever-present protesters.
“They were chanting expletives and things that would not make your parents proud,” Riley said.
On Saturday, Riley participated in the Women’s March on Washington near the National Mall. Riley said there were a lot more people there for the march than they had planned for, so most people couldn’t see or hear the speakers at the rally that lasted about four hours, but she still enjoyed the experience.
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