Locals attend presidential inauguration
DENTON — Caroline County residents attended the presidential inauguration festivities on Friday, Jan. 20, along with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office who signed up for security details.
Denise Lovelady, vice chairman of the Talbot GOP attended the swearing in
and the Freedom Ball with her husband David and her other “date,” Rob Willoughby of Federalsburg.”
It was an incredible experience to share (with everyone) what we did to help elect President Trump,” Lovelady said. Although she and her group arrived at 6:30 a.m. for the noon ceremony, she said “the time flew by.”
Lovelady, who is the Mid-Shore community liaison for Congressman Andy Harris, said that more than 2,000 calls for inauguration tickets poured into Harris’s office, which had just over 200 to give away.
Rob Willoughby, who is assistant principal of North Caroline High School and a former history and government teacher at Colonel Richardson High School, said that “witnessing histor y and the peaceful transfer of power puts me in awe.”
A John Kasich supporter during the primary, Willoughby was philosophical about watching someone else take the oath of office. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to “stand around and talk to people from all over the country and getting their feedback. I met a couple from Wisconsin and folks from Long Island. I asked, ‘What are your feelings? When did you begin to support (Donald Trump), What did it for you?’”
Willoughby, who has served on the Caroline County Republican Central Committee, attended the evening ball and said, “The entertainment was great, but the inauguration was the center of the day.”
Anthony and Amy Casey of Ridgely drove over just to stand on the National Mall and witness history being made. Casey, president of the Ridgely town commission, said he and his wife were able to “get pretty close up” at their location near Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street SW.
“We thought that this was a historical moment,” Casey said. “It didn’t matter who was being sworn in. It’s been a part of American histor y since George Washington was sworn in, so to get to go was pretty exciting.”
Waterman voiced similar thoughts. She named each president and first lady who walked onto the dais out of the U.S. Capitol, and said that “the peaceful transfer of power” represented by the former first families’ presence “was was a testament to how great our country is.”
“The actual inauguration was like being at a rock concert,” Casey said. “It was full of positive energy with ever yone waiting for this moment to happen. For Trump supporters, there was a lot of cheering, clapping, high-fives. People were ready to move forward after the election.”
The Caseys left the city after the noon ceremony, anxious to get home instead of staying for the parade that was scheduled to begin four hours later.
Also attending the inauguration were local police officers who were recruited, trained and deputized to help federal and District of Columbia law enforcement officers handle security during the day’s events.
The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office sent five deputies to help more than 100 federal and city law enforcement and security agencies. The Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office sent over 11 members from its Maritime Tactical Operations Group. The Easton Police Department dispatched 11 officers.
“We were truly honored to be able to send a team,” said Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds. “We’re glad they were safe, unlike some other officers who were injured.”
In fact, the Caroline County team was put on standby during the inaugural parade as an unruly group of protesters got within two blocks of their post, said Lt. Ron Dixon, who was part of the security reinforcement detail.
Casey said he was glad his toddler had stayed with family back home. “I didn’t want to bring him into that mess,” he said. “A bunch of signs had profanity on them that I don’t believe a family should have to see.”
The Caseys, who took the metro into the city, had to walk about 10 blocks from the 13th Street metro stop to their designated spot on the National Mall. “Every lettered street had protesters on it.” Casey said. “A lot of protesters blocked gates to stop ticket holders tr ying to get in.”
“You felt protected inside the gate,” Casey said. “I didn’t feel like we were in danger, but in a big city you’re not at ease. With a big event like that, you never know. You want to keep on your toes.”
“The few protesters we saw were just standing with signs or yelling at (us),” Lovelady said. “It didn’t bother me because I was caught in the moment. I just thought, ‘More power to you.’”
If he were teaching government now, “when every issue is polarizing,” Willoughby said he would try conveying “how to have your opinions and convictions, but be able to communicate them intelligently and respectfully.”
Before beginning their crowd control duty, the Caroline County deputies arrived in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and made a point of visiting the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at Judiciary Square, which is engraved with the names of police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“It was one of the most meaningful parts of the whole trip,” Dixon said.
The next day Dixon said he and his team joined “about 3,200 of our closest law enforcement friends from across the country” for about seven hours of training at the D.C. Army National Guard Armory.
The Caroline deputies’ initial post was on Constitution Avenue between 6th and 7th streets. On Friday at 2:30 a.m., they began their 17-hour day and left their Bethesda hotel with the 30-officer team they were attached to from the Cleveland (Ohio) Police Department. Arriving at the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, they were met by their Metropolitan Police Department liaison.
From their vantage point, the Caroline officers could hear and see some of the inauguration ceremony on the Jumbotrons. But once they moved over to Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade, their eyes were focused on the crowd in front of them.
During their training the day before, officers working the parade detail were “instructed not to look at the president as he (went) by,” Capt. James Henning said. “Our job was solely to make sure there was no danger to the president and (his personnel). None of us got to see the president although he was 10 feet behind us.”
For both Dixon and Henning, their first inauguration duty was memorable, and they hope their fellow deputies will have their chance in four years.
“For me, with 23 years on the job, it’s a once-in-a-career highlight. I’ll take with me for the rest of my life,” Dixon said. “We were on duty for 17 hours, and, other than having sore feet, it went by almost like in a blink.”
“It was eye-opening to see the passion people had whether you were for or against the president,” Henning said. “You see people from all around the nation. People in our section (of the parade route) were offering us food or water. They were very kind and very supportive (of law enforcement).”
What stood out for Dixon was “to see that many law enforcement officers out all at one time,” he said. “We had the opportunity to interact with all the agencies — officers from Seattle, Miami, the Florida Highway Patrol, Rhode Island — and the opportunity to be together with them in the same mission. I was in awe.”
“I learned that there is not anything that can’t be done if you put your mind to it,” Dixon said. “I think about what we have to do here locally, and it pales in comparison to what the (metro police) do. If there was ever a time it wasn’t organized, we didn’t see it.”
“You watch it on TV, but you don’t actually realize what goes on behind the scenes,” Henning said. “Being a part of something like this is something (our team) will always remember.”
The deputies’ long day wound down with dinner and sharing “stories and laughs” with their Cleveland colleagues back at the hotel.
Lovelady, who was recruited by the Trump campaign a year ago, said that to be able “to come together and be part of history (was) incredible. I hope that people will give the president a chance. He’s doing what he said he was going to do, so I truly hope he’s going to be the president for all people.”
Five members of the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office provided security for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump. Standing on Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, Jan. 19 are, from left, Capt. James Henning, Sgt. Kevin Nagyiski, Sgt. Nancy Nagel, Lt. Ronald Dixon and Cpl. Bryan Peris.
Caroline County sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Kevin Nagyiski interacts with parade attendees on Pennsylvania Avenue before the inaugural parade.
Diana Waterman, left, at the Liberty and Freedom inaugural ball with Rob Willoughby (Caroline) and Mary Burke Russell (St. Mary’s).
Caroline County sheriff’s deputies who helped provide security for the 58th presidential inauguration could purchase a commemorative badge.