Harford residents recount different, but similar experiences at Trump inauguration, Women's March

The two phases of President Donald Trump's inauguration couldn't have been scripted in Hollywood or, for you "House of Cards" fans, in Joppa. Or could they?

Jim Reilly, Harford County's Clerk of the Circuit Court, had a prime spot to watch the president's inauguration ceremony Friday, a seat in the front row, about 100 feet from the west side of the U.S. Capitol where Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.


"It was a lifetime experience I'm sure I'll never experience again," Reilly, attending his first presidential inauguration, said.

The scene around the Capitol was quite different less than 24 hours later.


Aberdeen resident Linda Dean Salmon said the crowds at the Women's March on Washington Saturday were so large that "you literally couldn't turn around, people were so packed."

Women and men from all over the nation descended on the nation's capital the day after Trump's inauguration to ensure the voices of women will be heard under a new administration they fear will be hostile to the civil rights gains women and minorities have made in the past decades.

People, many of them wearing the signature pink pussycat knitted caps, filled the National Mall and the surrounding streets.

"It was so packed, we couldn't move for a couple of hours," Salmon said. "There was still a lot of camaraderie around us, and it was always positive."


Which crowd was bigger instantly became a back-and forth between the president and his staff and the media, but for those from Harford County who attended one or the other – did anyone try both? – there was much meaning to take away.

Right place, right time

Reilly attended the inauguration ceremony with Harford County state Sen. Wayne Norman. He left Norman as they were waiting for the event to begin to find a place to use the bathroom.

He found a place with heated portable toilets – and no lines – and when he came out, an event staffer asked him and about 14 other people huddled together if they wanted good seats.

"She said, you 15 want some good seats, come with me," Reilly recalled.

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The group was directed to fill in empty seats in the rows in front of the Capitol. Trump was on a "perch" above the crowd for the swearing-in ceremony and when he gave his inaugural address.

"All I had to do was look up, and he was right there," Reilly said.

Trump, in his first speech as president, spoke about giving political power back to the American people and ending what he called the "American carnage" of poverty, shuttered factories, poorly-educated youths, crime and drugs.

"I thought he shot from the hip, and I enjoyed his speech," Reilly said. "I thought it was done rather well."

He saw spectators crying "happy tears" as they listened to "a populist message to give the country back to the people."

Norman watched the ceremony from his and Reilly's spots on the Capitol steps, not as close as Reilly got, but still "really, really good" seats, he noted.

"It was really an awesome experience," Norman said.

Norman said they could see protesters, but he did not see any violence in his area, despite reports there were some violent confrontations between police and anti-Trump protesters in parts of the capital.

Penn Station in Baltimore felt like Penn Station in New York Saturday morning as thousands of people on their way to the Women's March in Washington waited in lines that snaked from the tracks to the streets.

"They weren't really offensive or anything," Norman said of the protesters he saw, noting they were "not happy with the situation" of Trump's election.

He saw other protesters in the crowd near the Capitol, blowing whistles, and he saw one person taken away in handcuffs.

Norman said it started to rain during Trump's speech, which he and other spectators saw as a "cleansing rain."

Many protesters and causes

Salmon and a friend traveled to the capital Saturday via MARC commuter train, and they got separated in the crowd. Salmon spent the day with fellow marchers, though.

"Everybody was so friendly, you didn't feel like you were alone," Salmon said.

A number of celebrities spoke to the massive crowds. Salmon said she heard remarks from comedian Amy Schumer and singer Madonna.

She said people were there representing causes about "everything imaginable."

"It was a good experience, and it was kind of a wake-up call for us to just think about things that are important in our lives and not be complacent," Salmon said.

Delane Lewis, a Bel Air resident and founder of Together We Will – Harford County Upper Chesapeake, said the experience was "amazing."

"It was amazing, it was really amazing," she said. "The emotions as we were walking in and just to see a literal sea of women mainly just rolling in, all the pink hats, it just was mind-blowing."

Lewis marched with her daughter, an experience she said was "wonderful."

"It was just a moment where women were claiming their political power, and I think it was a pretty powerful message where you look at how many women came out across this country and across the world, and all for different reasons," she said.