Marylanders Brave Cold Weather, Tight Security to Witness Inauguration|
|Inaugural spectators in near-freezing weather wait in line at a security check point. (Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)
By Megan McIlroy
Capital News Service
Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005
WASHINGTON - Jessica Slatten isn't a particularly big fan of
President Bush's. The Silver Spring resident concedes that she only
voted for him because she liked his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, even
But Slatten was still willing to endure long security lines and
stand for hours on a soggy Mall to watch as Bush was sworn in to a
second term Thursday.
"I am just so excited to be here and to be so close," said Slatten,
who stood blocks away from the Capitol steps and relied on a giant
screen to watch the ceremony.
Whether they were there for the ceremony and history, like Slatten,
or true Republican believers there to celebrate their victory,
Maryland residents joined thousands in Washington for Thursday's
The events took place under cloudy and cool January skies -- and
the watchful eyes of thousands of police and Secret Service agents who
manned checkpoints throughout the cordoned-off heart of the city for
the unprecedented security surrounding the event.
Spectators waited at least an hour to get through security
checkpoints where bags were checked, metal-detecting wands were used
and all were patted down. The high level of security left most
visitors saying they were unconcerned about potential terrorist
attacks at the first inaugural since 9-11.
"Oh yeah, we got patted down," said Shannon Cassidy, a Silver
Spring resident who took off from work to attend the swearing-in with
Like Slatten, Cassidy said she voted for Bush, even though she
seemed less than enthused about him. That was not the case with other
Marylanders, who were clearly there for their man.
Linda and Dwight Busick of Berlin, Md., said they "worked hard on
the lower shore" for the Republican Party and wanted to feel like a
part of the inauguration.
Ocean City resident Ann Granados said she is a lifelong Republican
who attended inaugural balls for President Bush's first swearing-in
and for the inauguration of his father. She took a pass on the balls
this year, saying she did not think a third round was necessary, but
said the swearing-in ceremony itself was a priority.
Others at the event were also clearly supportive of the president.
The sea of bodies that packed the snow-covered Capitol lawn Thursday
was peppered with red, white and blue Bush/Cheney paraphernalia.
Stickers that read "Viva Bush" clung to fur coats, and cowboy hats
bounced up and down around the lawn.
There was palpable excitement in the crowd: Bush's impending
arrival sent whispers and spontaneous applause though the crowd. As
his motorcade drove up to the Capitol, people screamed for Bush as if
he were a football star.
The crowd's energy was high from the introductions of senators and
congress members (Kerry elicited boos from the crowd) to the end of
the swearing-in, when dancing and cheering broke out.
While chanting protesters ringed the parade route, sparking
occasional scuffles with Bush supporters, dissidence was all but
invisible and inaudible at the swearing-in itself.
Mitchellville resident Jesse Helsel applauded zealously through
Bush's speech. Helsel took the day off work to witness the swearing-in
of Bush, a man he admires for his conviction, his faith, his clarity
and a laundry list of other attributes he cited Thursday.
"It was the least I could do," he said of the time off and
30-minute drive to Washington. "Some people sacrificed a lot more to
be here than I did to be here."
People from Ohio, New York, Florida, California, Alabama, Michigan
and many other states wore buttons with messages like: "W: Still our
Some Maryland residents said they were there only because of the
out-of-towners. Bush voter Bruce Fredrick of Ellicott City said he was
at the swearing-in because his brother and sister-in-law flew up from
Florida and planned to go to balls and the parade. Fredrick just
tagged along for the ride because the inauguration is such an
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Fredrick -- although
he admitted it was actually a twice-in-a-lifetime experience for him,
since he attended Bush's first inauguration four years ago.
-- Capital News Service reporter Elizabeth Weiss contributed to
2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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