Part 1: That Buzz Guy Goes To Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another is the hallmark of our American government. Inaugurating a new President is the biggest event for any political party and a production that is put on for the benefit of the public. I had the distinct privilege of covering the Presidential Inauguration for the community of Enid, Oklahoma in January 2017.

The adventure started with a simple blog post about tickets being given away in a random lottery drawing through our Senators office. You can read more about the beginning of the journey and how it all came together here. My wife Denise volunteered to be my assistant on this trip and took off work to travel with me. Our entire time in Washington D.C. was squeezed into 48 hours from the time we landed on Thursday to the time we took off again on Saturday.

Thursday, January 19 started out from OKC at 3:30am in the morning. We flew to Chicago and then to Washington D.C. Reagan National Airport is in Washington D.C. and is very close to downtown and all areas of the government. Two alternative airports are much further away and located in surrounding Virginia and Maryland. We arrived without incident around 11:00am where we were welcomed by one time Enid resident Annette Burgart.

This story has 2 more parts: Day Two InaugurationDay Two Parade.

That Buzz Guy goes to Washington

The first stop we made immediately after departing the plane was straight to the Pentagon. From the outside it looks almost like a normal building because you can’t see all of the other sides. Picture taking is not allowed in the Pentagon so I did not get inside photos.

The Pentagon is almost a city within a city with over 25,000 employees. Once you enter the series of buildings and hallways you quickly get the feeling that you are in a huge airport. There are restaurants, a credit union, hair salon, DMV, complete athletic center and more.

We were given a very rare personal tour of the Pentagon and got to see many aspects that a guided tour might not get to encounter. We had lunch in the dining area which resembled a mall food court with Burger King, Subway, Popeye’s and others. Dennis Burgart gave us a history lesson on the building and took us to the Pentagon Memorial area.

Although I did not get any inside photos of the Pentagon I did snap a pic of the courtyard in the middle of the complex. This is the only place you can use your cell phone. You supposedly can get from any place in the Pentagon to another in 12 minutes by using the corridors and the courtyard.

The hallways of the Pentagon are a huge military museum in themselves. You could spend hours reading history, looking at photos and touching artifacts. If you ever get a chance for a tour be sure and take it especially if you are interested in history and the military.

We left the Pentagon and traveled by Metro to Union Station. Buses were lined up everywhere, not waiting to move people, but to block any vehicles from being able to drive into the inauguration areas. From there we made our way to Senator James Lankford’s office in the Hart Senate Building. Sen. Lankford was having a reception for Oklahoman’s dropping by to pick up tickets. I don’t know how many tickets were given out but around 3500 people put their name in the lottery. We were invited back the next day if we needed a place to warm up.

Our inauguration ticket packet included an official invitation, a program, White House photos of the President and Vice President, 2 tickets to the orange section and an Oklahoma flag pin. The card on the bottom was our commemorative inauguration Metro card that got us anywhere the Metro went all day for just $10.

We left the senate building and crossed the street to the U.S. Capitol. This was the sidewalk and park out front. A nice couple stopped and asked if we wanted them to take our picture. The Capitol building was so much larger and cooler than I had imagined. We were able to walk right up to the front of the building. The sun was about to set and the temps were actually fairly warm.

The U.S. Capitol faces the Supreme Court, shown here, and the Library of Congress. Everything is just a quick walk across the street from each other. There is a street in between each building. Here I am facing the U.S. Capitol, which is to the west of these buildings.

We ran into this vehicle across the street from the Supreme Court. Not sure what it was being used for other than advertising. A news reporter from another station was sitting in the passenger seat doing a story.

This is the back of the U.S. Capitol where the inauguration took place. It faces west and looks over the National Mall. The National Mall runs from the back of the U.S. Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument in the middle. These photos were taken the evening before the inauguration. We had full access to wander around up to a certain point. All of these areas were closed off for ticket holders only on inauguration day.

A closer shot of the back of the U.S. Capitol. The seats and our standing area were on the Capitol ground or West Lawn. Just behind me in this shot was the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

Capitol Reflecting Pool

This is the Capitol Reflecting Pool just west of the Capitol Grounds. Beyond this is the National Mall which leads to the Washington Monument seen in the distance. Further west is the Lincoln Memorial. It is 1.9 miles between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

One of the best parts of the day was the fact that Pennsylvania Ave. was closed to traffic but not pedestrians. So we walked the exact route of the Inauguration Parade. On inauguration day this street was lined on both sides with police officers.

Along Pennsylvania Ave. we noticed a very large building with a tall clock tower. As we got closer we realized it was the Trump International Hotel. Very odd that he would be walking by his own hotel on inauguration day. This building was originally the U.S. Post Office. After sitting empty for years and being saved from demolition it was ultimately leased to Trump development which renovated the entire building.

In the middle of the National Mall sits the Washington Monument. We were told no other building in D.C. could be taller than the monument. Looking to the east you can see the Capitol, to the west you can see the Lincoln Memorial and to the north you can see the White House. From this location we could see and hear the Inauguration Concert featuring Lee Greenwood, Three Doors Down and Oklahoma’s Toby Keith. We did not make it to the Lincoln Memorial due to the concert barriers.

Looking north from the Washington Monument you can see the White House and South Lawn across the street. The streets around the White House had so many barriers we did not make it to the north side. After seeing this view we called it a day and headed to our host’s home for dinner and rest.

Continue on to day two of my Washington DC trip!