Inauguration Day Observations In Our Nation’s Capital, And A Unexpected Tour Of St. Matthew’s
It was overcast and cold when I arrived near the Capitol after my two mile morning walk on Inauguration Day. This was the closest you could approach the Capitol, at New Jersey Avenue and D Street NW . The security fence was about five blocks from the Capitol building. (Here is a link to my blog post from my walk to the Capitol earlier in the morning https://wp.me/p5GeDV-IeP ).
Walking down New Jersey Avenue I was inspired, as I always am, by the beauty of our Nation’s Capitol. And the freedom and democracy it symbolized and inspired to generations of Americans and other Nations throughout our planet.
In a few hours, on this day, the peaceful transfer of power would again be on display, in public, as it has for over 2oo years. Unfortunately, because of the insurrection at the Capitol and pandemic, citizens such as I, could not observe the ceremonies on the steps of the Capitol. Only a small audience of guests, elected officials, members of the press and the vast contingent of security personal would watch this historic event in person.
Out here on New Jersey Avenue reporters from around the world had set up their cameras and were sending live reports back to their home countries. I heard many languages spoken as I walked over to Louisiana Avenue.
On this street I found even more reporters,
and, for the first time a handful of tourists, observers, protesters and a few dozen President Elect Biden supporters.
The small crowd was peaceful and reporters competed to interview the few folks who showed up despite the threats of violence and pandemic fears.
I decided to walk back to my hotel, since I wanted to watch the historic Inauguration on television. This time I walked the perimeter of the security fence as it zigzagged the streets of Washington D.C.
At various points I came to checkpoints manned by National Guardsmen from all over our Nation. As I did earlier, I thanked every Guardsmen, police officer, secret service or FBI agent or any other man or woman providing security to our elected officials and President and Vice-President Elect.
I chatted with many of these young men and women I encountered. This crew was from Nevada. I had a nice talk about Death Valley, Scotty’s Castle, Las Vegas and they many other places I visited in that State. They were impressed with my knowledge of their home state. It was a nice chat. I also met units from Florida, Indiana, Alabama , New York, and my home State of Pennsylvania , to name a few, and had nice conversations with them all.
I continued my walk east, toward the White House, trying to get as close to the National Mall as I could.
And it wasn’t very close. Access was restricted by the security fence,
with checkpoints, and heavily armed security, checking the credentials of anyone allowed in the secured areas.
I saw this riot shields along a fence, and I was glad they were not needed.
On my entire 8 mile hike I only saw one President Trump supporter protesting the actually Inauguration and only scattered small crowds of folks and signs supporting the President Elect.
Once again the security forces and police and outnumbered the reporters and tourists in the streets near the National Mall. The security fence again turned me northward and I walked along E Street until I had to head north again on 10th. Street. I didn’t mind the detours since I was enjoying the sights of the city, and walked past famous Ford’s Theater, where President Lincoln was assassinated. This was my first time in this area.
At 14th Street I learned a checkpoint for pedestrians was open and I was allowed to proceed through security. Bags and pockets were checked and explosive sniffing dogs patrolled the area. Unfortunately, I was only able to walk two blocks until I came to the security fence and had to turn back.
It was getting late and I didn’t want to miss the Inauguration on television so I decided to head in a more direct route to my hotel.
I again passed numerous security checkpoints, armed National Guardsmen as I made my was to north and east through the streets of Washington DC.
I came across the only stand on my entire walks selling Inauguration souvenirs. The fellow selling them said sales weren’t very good and I was able to purchase a few items at a steep discount.
Near Rhode Island Avenue I decided to walk to Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, where an amazing thing happened. First here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the Capitol and my hike around the city. . Washington D.C. January 21 2021.
This is the Cathedral where President Elect Biden invited Republican members of Congress to join him at a religious service. This gesture itself, I thought, was a good way to begin his term in Office. They were here only a few hours earlier.
At the Cathedral I walked up to the huge doors and found them locked. I tried all of the doors with no success. As I was leaving, and walking up the street, a group of uniformed police officers exited the church. I turned and asked if it were open. They, in unison, told me NO it wasn’t. As the left I saw a woman and asked her if the church was open. At first she said no, but talking fast, which I can do, I told her how I was at Pope John Paul II’s funeral and the election of Pope Francis. This caught her attention and she allowed me into the beautiful Cathedral.
I was in awe to think only a few hours earlier our next President prayed here. This sign of thankfulness and humility impressed me. I spoke with the woman about my travels to Rome. She was a kind and loving woman.
She told me Pope John Paul II served Mass here.
I was allowed to photograph the beautiful altar and spent some time in the peace and quiet of this historic Church My thoughts turned to my departed mother and sister Linda, both devout Catholics, and felt, they, in some way, arranged this wonderful experience.
It was a very emotional and moving experience. I left feeling I was supposed to be in this city on this day. It was only a few blocks to my hotel, and I walked back on the now overcast and cold day, reflecting on my life, and on future of our great Nation. I had a feeling we may be moving in the right direction and looked forward to watching the Inauguration ceremonies on television. Hopefully, in four year I will return to watch them in person. Here is a link to some more photographs from my amazing visit to St. Matthew’s Cathedral. St. Matthew’s Cathedral January 20 2021.
“Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.”
—Abraham Lincoln, 1860