*A disclaimer: I wrote this in response to my trip to the presidential inauguration. My friends on Facebook wanted to hear what it was like. I respect those of you readers who have differing political opinions.

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Two weeks before Christmas I received an email from Representative Jared Polis saying I could register for his inauguration ticket lottery. It was weird that I received his email since Polis is a Democrat and I’m a Republican. Long back story there—I won’t go into it here.

I, like many, was not always a Trump supporter. But over the months I witnessed how bad things had gotten at the highest levels of our government. I understood it would take a strong personality like Trump to take it back. As one writer said, “People didn’t vote for Trump because he’s brash and arrogant, they voted for him in spite of those qualities.” I’m guessing many people wish he would be sweet, politically correct, and polite like Vice President Pence.

But we didn’t get a choice. It was let America slip into oblivion, or pray and support the candidate who said he would get it back.

As I got behind Trump, my fondness for him grew. As the months went by I only had two days where I truly lost hope and considered he might not win. The rest of the months I believed he could pull it off. I’m a news junkie so I witnessed how the mainstream press twisted facts. I really did believe America was secretly (or not so secretly behind him), and at the very least against Hillary.

My grown son, a realtor in Winter Park, Colorado, also jumped on the Trump Train. You’ll have to ask him what made that happen. My daughter is a Rand Paul supporter. My husband wanted anyone but Hillary.

On the night of the election I watched every second and I never doubted Trump would win. It was fun.

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So fast forward: I won those tickets. My husband wanted to join me but he had too much work. My son instantly said he wanted to come along.

(Years ago I went to the Netherlands where my daughter was studying abroad. It really bonded us. I knew that if Tucker and I traveled together to this event it would connect us in new ways.)

But I almost decided not to come. I had a moment of fear where the thought of protestors made me want to be safe and stay small. Boy, I’m glad I didn’t back out. The trip and inauguration were epic.

Some highlights:

*Walking through Denver International Airport where people high-fived my son who was wearing his Make America Great Again hat.

*Visiting with the man in the airplane seat next to us. His company sells the safety equipment to the police.

*Walking near our Airbnb apartment when the evening’s golden hour hit. Grabbing some beers and tacos to take back to the apartment.

*Attending US Representative Jared Polis’ wine and cheese party where they gave us our inauguration tickets.

*Getting up at 4:30 a.m. to walk towards the Capitol. Spending a few hours running around and riding metros since we were set up with “Orange” tickets but there was no easy way to get there. A group of eight strangers formed a mini Amazing Race.

*Making friends with all the people beside us at the inauguration. Standing still for six hours in sinking mud is not easy! When it was over I felt tired, as if I had run a marathon.

*Tears flowed down my face as I watched the transfer of power. It’s been a hard few years for everyone on both sides! I love my country and I know you do too.

*I had surreal moments where I had my head on my son’s back and thought to myself, “I’m never going to forget this!”

*Hearing the comments from the people nearby. I cringed when a few chanted “Lock her up” and when they sang the “Hey hey….goooood bye” song to Chuck Schumer. I echo their sentiments, but I still believe in keeping a certain amount of decorum at events like inaugurations.

*I enjoyed hearing the men and women talk about Melania Trump’s fashion choice. I choked back tears when everyone bowed to pray. I heard audible affirmations asking God to heal our land. Highlights were hearing the pastors pray, and singing along with Jackie Evancho.

*The only low moment was when I tried to walk 25 yards back to the Port-a-Potty and then back to my place. So many people had taken their space hours earlier and didn’t appreciate anyone’s attempt to move closer. They weren’t selfish, they just didn’t want to lose those hard-earned spots. As much as I tried to say to people, “See me, I’m coming from way up there. Remember my face when I try to come back” I had to text my son and have him wave to me. “See, there’s my son, I told you I was up there already.”

*When it was all over it seemed like the gazillion people didn’t want to leave. Movement was slow, and we had all shared in the joy of what we had experienced. It felt like the crowd was one unit. It took about an hour to empty into the streets of DC. There was one angry protestor on an intercom. Surprisingly he was telling us we were all going to Hell and we needed Jesus.

*Tucker and I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink all day. We were tired, hungry, and parched. We came across a place called The Carving Room that my son said was featured on Diners, Drivers, and Dives. There was standing room only so we got a cold beer and sat outside in the Adirondack chairs. Never did a beer taste so good! It seemed like everyone in the place had a smile on their faces. When we finally got seated we watched protests on the TV screens. There was no fear; only comments about Fake News. People felt the protestors were taking up news time that belonged to Donald Trump.

*Finally, we walked back to our Airbnb apartment. We took hot showers, charged phones, and caught up on emails. We still had two more days to bond.

Keep reading and I’ll tell you what happened the next day when we got caught in the Woman’s March . . .

16195188_10154865445791774_6729145649197511687_nOur Airbnb apartment

15977934_10154865668576774_8078724940269456539_nWine and cheese party sponsored by US Representative Jared Polis

16142244_10154866021801774_9090930120196798458_nMe with my son Tucker at Representative Polis’ party

16196047_10154867128321774_5554053536414104227_nTucker at the 45th presidential inauguration

16105846_10154347076682705_6711553367732504873_nIt’s official! President Donald J. Trump! Matching LL Bean coats:-)

16195711_10154869014456774_3327442322785236719_nResting. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to stand still in a crowd for six hour. Plus, we did a lot of walking beforehand.

So the day after the inauguration we headed over toward the Air and Space museum. We were aware there would be a protest by a bunch of women wearing pink but we had no idea we would get caught in it. We took a cab to a place within two blocks of the museum. I cautioned Tucker that we might not want to head into the crowd but he didn’t want to be bullied just for being a Trump supporter. He grabbed my hand and said, “C’mon follow me!” Within half a block we were swallowed up. Here’s the part where you need to know I’m claustrophobic!

I hate crowds!

For the next two hours we tried to move one way or the other with little progress. I had moments of sheer panic as the pressure got tighter. This was no ordinary crowd. It was so tight it was nearly impossible to move two feet to the left or right. I think I dissociated and tried to maintain calm. At one point we were next to a medical area–I pleaded with them to let me in. They pushed me back and told me I couldn’t come into that area. Eventually we worked our way up one block hoping to go along the side of the museum. We kept hoping the crowd would ease up. It didn’t. In fact once on the other side of the block we were between the Capitol and the Museum where the protest originated, so it was even more crowded.

My son gripped my hand and tried to pull me through. A small group of Asian women who were also trying to get out grabbed me. We were a sliver of roped hands begging and pleading with people to let us through. Finally I got lightheaded and told Tucker, “I can’t do this anymore.” He yelled to the crowd, “Hey, I’ve got a lady here who’s fainting.” The crowd eased up a few inches and we pulled through and finally up next to the museum. I was still hanging onto the row of Asian women. We had to ease along the museum walls for another 30 minutes because all the protestors were using the bathrooms inside the museum. In other words the mob scene inside the museum was just as bad as the mob outside.

I will never ever be able to do justice in describing what this was like. No one person was mean to us but it was absolutely terrifying. The crowd had been whipped into a frother. They were ravenous! Later on I learned the speakers I overheard were Madonna, and Ashley Judd, among others. I heard the P word and C word a few thousand times. I saw ten thousand handmade signs with graphic body parts. I saw little boys and girl, and babies, wearing “vagina” hats. I kept trying to understand what these people were so angry about. There was so much talk of menstruation, blood, panties, and the P and C words. As a women I have never felt put upon so I still struggle to understand why the crowd was so angry.

(Later I heard a news commentator say a lot of these folks had assumed Hillary would win so they probably had airplane tickets and hotels arranged, therefore they decided to make it a proabortion/anti-Trump event.)

The good news is once we got upstairs we had the museum to ourselves. I guess that’s a rare thing. I felt safe talking to the older gentlemen at the information desk. They informed us they too struggled to get to work that day even though they arrived hours earlier. When they saw Tucker’s hat they said, “You’re a brave young man.” Tucker bought me a cold water and put his arms around me and told me it was going to be okay. We took a tour with only five people: The man who gave us the tour was excellent. He was a military man, a pilot, who gave us a 90 minute tour that was one of the best I’ve ever experienced.

Finally, around 4 p.m. we left. There was such a mess outside and so many people. We walked to an overpass and caught a taxi that took us out to Arlington where my son’s coworker had recommended a crab shack. At first the place was empty, but eventually it was filled with people who had been at the rally. Tucker was sweet. He asked them how their day was and showed sincere interest about the rally, not telling them we had been stuck in it. When we left, he put on his Make America Great Again hat and wished them a good evening.

That boy makes me proud. Yes he’s stubborn, yes he’s rebellious, but he’s kind. I bonded with him in new ways on this trip. I saw how he helped anyone he could, whether it was a mom needing help carrying her stroller down museum steps, to holding the door and conversing with people with whom he had nothing in common. He asked insightful questions. He made lots of people laugh and smile. But best of all, he protected me. I remember when he was a little boy, around five years old. He said, “Mommy, I will always pa-tect you.” When I asked why he said, “Because you alway pa-tect me.”

16195852_10154871341776774_2985148184304081085_nOn the way to Air and Space Museum the next morning we got stuck in that mob for two hours!

16174952_10154871273281774_4247095068028640592_nYou can’t really see but there is a sea of pink behind the windows. We stayed safe all day in the Air and Space Museum.

16143292_10154871759906774_1437937310486502575_nI was sad about the mess they left behind. We were still nervous to brave the melee.

16265240_10154872255771774_1865421924474696850_nA friend of Tucker’s recommended this place called Quarterdeck

16195055_10154872010306774_1983182615373377488_n

16113326_10154874664746774_513219368207677602_oThe morning after the Women’s March we went to see all the monuments. (Lincoln and Washington memorials shown here)

16195739_10154874860676774_7604563829622873459_nMy husband’s dad’s best friend died in Vietnam. He flew a helicopter in to enemy fire where our guys were wounded. He got the guys but then was shot down.

16174422_10154874860736774_1091733065068635287_nWilliam Adams from Craig, Colorado Died May 1972

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Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."