I experienced so many incredible things over the last week that when I sit down to try and share them in this blog it is a little overwhelming to figure out how to fit it all in, but I will do my best to share the highlights and include a few fun photos for you….
It came about because I had received an invitation to attend the Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC. I’ve never been invited to a Presidential Inauguration before so I didn’t have a clue of what to expect, let alone what to wear?! Trying to pack for all of the events I was invited to, which included the Opening Make America Great Again Celebration Concert, the Inauguration Ceremony, the Parade, and the Inaugural Ball, I did what any normal woman would do and packed several huge suitcases full of clothes and shoes to give myself options and I headed to the airport with my husband to fly out to Washington DC.
I want to acknowledge that a lot of people have strong opinions about the inauguration of this new President, some very positive and some very negative, and I respect everyone’s right to their own views, but for me personally going to the Inauguration was about witnessing firsthand the peaceful transition of power as established by our inspired Founding Fathers of this great nation. I was honored to be invited to one of the defining events in America’s history. I love this country and I feel so much patriotism for America and all those who serve it so I felt blessed to receive an invitation to be part of this. And I have always, and will always, show respect for the office of the President of the United States.
When we got to the airport in Salt Lake Tuesday to fly out it was fun to find out that The Piano Guys and Lexi Walker were on our same flight. We all talked about how exciting it was that so many Utahns had been invited to perform at the Inauguration Ceremonies (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from Utah was also invited to perform at the ceremony). We all felt proud to be included.
Tuesday night we checked into the Trump Hotel in DC where we would be staying for the week. It is a beautiful hotel which happens to be the old FBI Headquarters which was my father’s home office when he was in the FBI so that made me really excited to stay there and see that part of his history.
Wednesday morning my husband and I paid a visit to Senator Hatch’s office and then we walked around DC’s National Mall. It was really impressive to see all the preparations being made. Then we came back to our hotel and we were visiting with our friends Scott and Karen Keller in the lobby and Gentry Beach who played a lead role with the Trump Campaign when the then President-Elect Donald Trump walked into the lobby. He graciously shook hands and talked with the group then headed to dinner at the hotel restaurant. The hotel was full of big names such Tony Romo, Steve Wynn, Rudolph Giuliani, Woody Johnson, and many more. It was quite the social scene.
Thursday was the big Make America Great Opening Celebration. We were especially excited for this event because our friend Al Vanderbeek of the Piano Guys, was going to be singing their song “Okay” (download it – it’s awesome!).
My husband and I were seated in the front row of the event and we invited Al’s wife Rachel and Lexi Walker (who would perform at the Ball) to join us there. We all had fun turning around to take selfies with President-Elect Trump in the background (as he was seated on the stage just in front of us).
My favorite performances of the night were Sam Moore, Lee Greenwood, the Piano Guys, Toby Keith, and the military band. Honestly this ended up being my very favorite event of the entire week because of the energy of the event and the incredible feelings of patriotism it inspired. Hearing Lee Greenwood sing “I’m Proud To Be An American” while we looked up at the Lincoln Memorial and back at the Washington Monument brought an amazing spirit that literally gave everyone the chills. Then the fireworks above the Lincoln Memorial were breathtaking.
The entire night was one I will never forget. And apparently I have plenty of help remembering it because I was on camera four or five times during the broadcast of the event which was aired on CNN, Fox News, PBS, and many other multiple TV networks. And then the next morning we woke up to find out a picture of us taken at the event was on the New York Post. So yes, it will definitely be remembered 🙂 .
Friday was the actual inauguration ceremony. When we got to the Capitol for the event it was incredible to see the massive number of people who had come out to watch the swearing in of President Trump. Having been there in person I can tell you that any news reports who stated the attendance was low were 100% untrue. People were packed in all the way from the Capitol itself back as far as the eye could see filling the National Mall and packed from side to side. The crowd was an incredible sight to see. The ceremony was fantastic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing was flawless. I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on how beautiful our new First Lady looked. She truly looked lovely. And without a doubt my favorite quote from President Trump’s speech was “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice”. So true!
As we were leaving the Capitol at the end of the swearing in we ran into none other than Utah’s own Channel 4 news reporter and cameraman who stopped us to do a quick interview.
Friday night was the Official Inauguration Balls. I was excited because our friends the Piano Guys were performing again and the unbelievably talented and lovely Lexi Walker was performing. Their performances were awesome! They did a fantastic job of sharing their God-given talents with America and I couldn’t have felt more proud for them. We also met so many new couples from different parts of the country and we made a lot of new friends.
When we arrived back at our hotel there was a big social gathering in the lobby and some members of the Trump family were there as well and I was able to get a fun selfie with Don Jr.
They had a DJ playing music and of course anyone that knows me knows that I love to dance. But no one was really dancing to the music…so Rollin and I started dancing to see if we could get others to join in with us. At first only one or two people joined in but we persisted and we ended up getting a huge group of people to join in with us and it turned into a huge dance party! We had everything from VIPs and dignitaries to firefighters and police officers to even a few little kids that joined us in the dance party. It was so much fun that we stayed up til 3am dancing!
Saturday we met up with a group of our friends including Congresswoman Mia Love and her husband Jason, Attorney General Sean Reyes and his family, Scott and Karen Keller, Dan and Kelly Clark, Don and Susan Peay, Kevin Pritchett, Niankoro Yeah Samake (the Mailian Ambassador to India), Raynard Jackson, Randy and Coni Brooks, Mike Deaver, Ron and Teresa Raddon and several other awesome people.
Sunday we headed to the airport to fly home and found several of our friends were on our same flight home and an old family friend Elder C. Todd Christofferson and his sweet wife Kathy were on our flight home.
As the plane was prepping to take-off the pilot did an overhead announcement that a chunk of our right wing on the plane was missing but not to worry about it as it wouldn’t affect our flight home!?! I literally could have gone my entire life without hearing that kind of announcement! I don’t know why he shared that with us but as you can imagine it made for a fun flight home. Thankfully we made it back in one piece. As we exited the plane we realized that former President Obama’s daughter had been on our flight as well…it certainly was an eventful trip.
This last week was one I will never forget. We met so many amazing people on this trip and we made so many new friends. It was exciting and exhausting at the same time but I will forever be grateful for the experience. And I will forever be grateful for the blessing of being a citizen of this country and may God continue to bless the United States of America and all of its leaders.
~Amy Rees Anderson