Inauguration Day is ‘turning the page’

Written by on January 20, 2021

 Inauguration Day is ‘turning the page’

By Megan Frank

January 20, 2021

Liam James Doyle/NPR

America is bracing for what is certain to be a unique Inauguration Day, as security concerns dominate a sacred tradition more than two centuries old. This ceremony is just as important for voters as it is for the President-elect.

Listen to the story.

Edward White, 59, of Allentown, remembers the first presidential inauguration that was especially meaningful to him.  

The inauguration in January 1981 for Ronald Reagan,” White says, “I registered to vote in 1979 when I was 18. So, 1980 was the first presidential election that I was able to vote in.” 

I actually have a photograph that’s a portrait of Ronald Reagan that I got from the White House that I got as a volunteer and supporter back in the day,” he says.

Twenty years later, White was invited to George W. Bush’s inauguration. 

I liked President Bush. I thought that he was able to restore the faith and unity in our country after 9/11,” White says. 

For Fred Montomery, 63, of Allentown, President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration was personal.

“It was very sentimental to me because he looks like me. It was a message of unity and the message of inclusion for the American people. Reaching beyond race, reaching beyond religion; reaching beyond economics,” Montgomery says. 

Obama’s inauguration speech also made a deep impression on Allentown resident Sarah Karess. She remembers tuning in to watch Obama’s inauguration when she was 16 years old.

Obama’s 2009 inauguration really stood out to me. If America could have a mission, it would be something he said during that inauguration. That America is a friend to all nations, to every person of every race and faith who seeks a future of peace and dignity. That is a mission that we should stick towards,” Karess says.

There’s one unusual inauguration that stands out to Joseph Rovner, 36, of Quakertown.

“I remember in college studying how Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration was done on Air Force One because JFK got assassinated. So, I’ve always remembered that one because there was no fanfare, no pomp and circumstance. It was just the vice president on a plane, swearing on a Bible,” Rovner says.

Glenn Eckhart, 53, of Allentown reached back more than a century and a half to Abraham Lincoln, who delivered his favorite inauguration speech. 

Clearly Lincoln’s second inaugural address. It’s only 701 words and it took him less than six minutes to read. I think it’s better than the Gettysburg Address itself,” Eckhart says. He imagines that Lincoln could have accomplished even more if he’d been able to carry out his full second term. 

José Gomez, 28,  is from Allentown. His parents moved here from the Dominican Republic.

“Immigrants come to the U.S. because of political instability in their home countries where there isn’t a peaceful transition of power. It’s important to see that that still exists in the U.S,” Gomez says, adding that Inauguration Day is like hitting a national reset button.

As someone who watched both Obama and Trump’s inaugurations, I watched with an expectation of wanting them to fulfill their platforms. It’s a hope that that individual will carry through the promises that they made to you.”

Even with the division the country’s seeing now, Joseph Rovner says he’ll be watching tomorrow with a similar expectation.

“The inauguration is important because it represents a clean slate and turning the page. And every president usually stands up there and promises to fulfill his or her vision of the American Dream,” Rovner says, “And I think that’s important to everybody.”

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