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Photo courtesy of Kim Hinds.
Kim Hinds of Hoover at the presidential inauguration.
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Photo courtesy of Scott Dawson.
Scott Dawson with his wife, Tarra, and children, Hunter and Hope, at the inauguration. As a pastor, Dawson said he also was delighted to pray with delegations before the inauguration and witness several prayers during the ceremony.
Seeing a new president being sworn in, Hoover resident Kim Hinds said, is a feeling that’s hard to describe.
“Words cannot … accurately portray this experience,” Hinds, a teacher at Deer Valley Elementary, said.
Along with her husband, Bryan, Kim Hinds was one of several Hoover residents who traveled to Washington, D.C., for President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Mayor Frank Brocato and his grandson, as well as resident and pastor Scott Dawson and his family, were also among the crowds.
“It’s historical, monumental. It does allow us to understand the process of turning over powers without wars and without entire countries being torn to shreds. It’s such a unique aspect of the true United States of America,” Dawson said.
Their reasons for attending the inauguration were different. The Hinds were escorting a group of Hewitt-Trussville High School seniors for the weekend’s ceremonies, as Bryan Hinds is a social science teacher at HTHS. Dawson had been invited to pray with several delegations in D.C. And Brocato had promised his mother, a Trump supporter until she passed away in November, that he would attend the inauguration if Trump won the election.
While the official swearing-in ceremony happened at 11:30 a.m., the day started much earlier for inauguration attendees. Kim Hinds said they left their hotel at about 3:30 a.m. that Friday to get through security and find a good spot. The protests that occurred on Friday and Saturday changed the atmosphere of the area, but Kim Hinds said the crowd attending the inauguration was upbeat.
“It was a very positive vibe. Everybody was glad to be there. There wasn’t negativity inside the walls of the inauguration,” Kim Hinds said.
When the speeches and prayers began, Kim Hinds said she was impressed by how silent the crowd was out of respect for the moment. After an especially contentious election cycle, Brocato said the “pomp and circumstance of the event itself” is impressive “no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on.”
“Peaceful transition of power from one president to another was pretty exciting,” Brocato said.
Hinds added: “It was really moving to watch this man that’s going to be the leader of the place that I live, and watch him become that leader.”
Each had moments that stood out to them in the weekend. Kim Hinds recalled seeing the monuments before sunrise as they walked across the National Mall, as well as meeting a couple from Cullman by chance in the security line. Brocato said he enjoyed seeing a group of Birmingham police officers representing their home city as they worked security for the event.
Dawson had one scary moment that turned out to be humorous. Immediately after Trump’s swearing-in, Dawson heard heavy artillery fire and thought there was an attack for one brief moment, before remembering that a new president is traditionally greeted with a 21-gun salute.
As a pastor, Dawson said he also was delighted to pray with delegations before the inauguration and witness several prayers during the ceremony.
“We’re not pure secularists; we do believe that we’re endowed by our Creator,” Dawson said. “We’re not wise enough or strong enough to get through this without knowing we need the hand of God.”
Kim Hinds said attending the inauguration also encouraged her to learn more about its history in the days leading up to the trip, and she now has a unique experience she can share with students in her Deer Valley classroom. She said she would like to attend an inauguration again “just because it was that wonderful.”
Dawson agreed, and had advice for future inauguration attendees.
“Make your plans early. Be wise, use the mass transit … you don’t want to have your own car,” Dawson said. “Have a plan before you go. Talk to your representative early.”
Kim Hinds said the chance to see this moment and be part of history was a bucket list item for her.
“For any American to be able to witness that history, it’s something to see,” Dawson said.