It all started with a simple text I sent to my best friend asking, “Do you want to go to the inauguration with me?”
Two months later I found myself sitting in the passenger seat of my car at 2:30 a.m. driving under the Delaware night sky. I had just landed in Newark, returning from a trip to from Miami a couple hours prior.
My best friend Ariel picked me up and we were off to our nation’s capital. After five hours of black coffee, deep conversation, and scratchy radio music we arrived to our pre-booked parking spot in Washington, D.C.
We made our way through the cold streets of D.C. towards the National Mall without tickets or a plan on how we would get around.
After two hours of asking police officers, volunteers and secret service agents we joined the 7th street line, the closest entrance to the capital, where the inauguration would be held.
We waited on the line, surrounded by protesters waiting to get in. At 9:00 a.m. we noticed the gates were shut and that the protestors had blocked the entrance to the checkpoint.
Not wanting to miss the inauguration, I quickly ran to another entrance, joined the line and called Ariel to tell him to join me.
We patiently waited on our new line where Trump supporters and protestors clashed. Protestors made their opinions known with signs while supporters and repeatedly chanted “USA.”
At around 10:50 a.m. we finally crossed the security checkpoint and sprinted to the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. With the inauguration ceremony scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m., we came to a gut wrenching halt when we saw the street had already been closed. At 10:58 a.m. with minutes to spare, the gates were reopened as people flooded though – only be greeted by another checkpoint.
With time running out we slipped into the front of the line and quickly crossed through security’s metal detectors onto the National Mall. We pushed as far as we could through crowd and made it to the front with seconds to spare as Mike Pence took his oath of office as the next vice president of the United States.
The next hour was a blur — a whirlwind of speeches, cheers, boos, tears, cigar smoke, and red caps all mixed together in my mind from that historic moment.
As I ran around taking pictures of the different people who travelled to Washington to witness the event, I realized the drama of this historical moment.
To many it felt like the messiah had finally arrived while others felt their whole world had been flipped upside down. The emotions were clear in each and every one of their faces – grief, joy, failure, success, sadness, happiness, disbelief, respect, honor, and horror were all present.
I tried capturing what I could with my camera in the hopes of sharing these emotions with others. I hope that through my photos people realize and understand how people with different points of view felt on Inauguration Day.
No matter your political views, it is imperative to understand that we can only move forward together. We can only improve as a nation by listening to one another’s opinions, no matter how different they may be from our own—because in the end, when the inauguration was finally over, everyone left through the same exits and into the same country.