Trump Supporters Gather Near Capitol To Witness Inauguration
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Some Donald Trump super fans packed right in front of the Capitol today to see the new president take his oath. To those Americans who are dreading a Trump presidency, these supporters say hold tight and have faith. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: While thousands of people arrived in Washington, D.C. to protest the new president, what radiated around the Capitol grounds was a palpable peacefulness. Gary Alden of Charlotte, N.C. sat in his wheelchair after the ceremony reflecting on the tumultuous last year.
GARY ALDEN: Being here today has been an emotional journey.
CHANG: Alden is a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War. He says maybe it's naive of him to honestly believe Trump can accomplish great things, but he's going to keep that faith for now. And if there's one thing to marvel at today, it's this...
ALDEN: This country is so great that we can actually transfer power from the totally opposite ends of the spectrum.
CHANG: Even though news of protests around the city had spilled through the crowds here, it did nothing to spoil the vibe.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Hi.
CHANG: ...You guys look festive. I'm Ailsa Chang from NPR.
Many people in the audience had this message for voters still anguishing over the election - it helps no one to assume the worst is around the corner. Debbie Vaughn traveled here from Harlington (ph), Texas.
DEBBIE VAUGHN: If America's going to go forward, we've got to work together. And I respect your right to disagree, but I hope that you will understand that this is where America is going. This was Trump's election, was the voice of the people.
CHANG: But then there were others in the crowd who had a very different message for the other side.
VAUGHN: Go smoke some dope or something, get over it. (Laughter) I mean...
CHANG: Tom Case, another guy from Charlotte, N.C. is a retired mortgage broker.
TOM CASE: Let them stay in the background, let them suffer. They don't want change, they want their way.
CHANG: Do you think Trump should reach out to the other side given how divided the country is?
CASE: What other side? If you're...
CHANG: All the people who voted for Hillary Clinton.
CASE: No, what's to reach out to? You can't negotiate with evil. If you are decent honest people and you want to support the Constitution and you want to make this country great, you can reach out. But core values - there's nothing to reach out to.
CHANG: Still, this was a crowd who spoke in phrases like new beginnings and fresh hope. Many of them were attending their first inauguration like Rocky Beene.
ROCKY BEENE: Originally I'm from Florida, but I've been living the last 32 years in Guatemala.
CHANG: You guys came all the way from Guatemala?
CHANG: Beene and her husband are missionaries in Guatemala, and they say Trump is returning the country back to its roots.
BEENE: We were based and grounded on Christianity, and you couldn't even say merry Christmas. There were so many things that were just not politically correct, and there were so many things that were just not right in the hearts of America. It was like the - our nation was being hijacked from us, and so he's given us our nation back.
CHANG: Beene says give Trump a chance. He spoke today about one America, and she says for now, people owe him the benefit of the doubt. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.