Locals recount lifetime inaugural experiences

PHOTO SUBMITTED Eight students from St. John Neumann Regional Academy attended the inauguration after they received tickets from U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station. Shown from left are guidance counselor Abby Brown, students Adali Matz, Sarah Harbach, Kaycie Gerrity, Noah Persun, Bridget Foresman and Molly Foresman, and school director of religious formation and history teacher Shawn Moore.

Local community members and school students made their way through the busy streets of Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration weekend, rubbing elbows with supporters and protesters from across the nation.

“It was fun. It was interesting. It was an experience,” said Faith Stainbrook, who received tickets to the inauguration for her family from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville. “It was certainly an experience and realizing that most people never get to do that, it was really humbling.”

Faith and Michael Stainbrook, with their 8-year-old son, Isaac, left their hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, at 6:30 a.m., getting on the metro to Union Station in the city. From there they walked about a mile to get to the security checkpoint, five blocks from the

Capitol Building.

Protesters were on the street near the checkpoint, but Stainbrook said the protesters “were horribly outnumbered.” When the Stainbrooks arrived at the checkpoint, the line to pass through was reduced to single file and she said the checkpoint agents had asked for reinforcements.

“The response to them (protestors) and their heckling was that the crowd started chanting USA and walked past,” Stainbrook said.

The family made it through the checkpoint and to its ticketed section by 9 a.m., loaded with water, cameras and red, white and blue ponchos.

“We had wonderful tickets for being ‘no one,’ “ Stainbrook said. “We all were very excited to be there.”

The Montgomery Area High School Red Raiders Marching Band was given a piece of the inauguration action after being chosen to be one of 15 high school bands from across the nation to participate in the inaugural events.

The students performed on a stage near the Lincoln Memorial. A large crowd gathered and the students were projected throughout the National Mall on Imax screens, according to Brian Rehn, the band director.

Rehn said the band played in the Presidential Inaugural Voices of the People Welcome Concert on Thursday.

“I was really impressed with these kids, not letting the moment pass them over,” Rehn said. “For me, it was incredible watching our kids experience something none of them have experienced before… Doing it on a national level was awe-inspiring to watch.”

The band played “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “The Armed Forces Salute” and “All I Do is Win.”

Rehn and the students then stayed in the city through the inauguration and into Saturday for another performance at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Saturday morning.

Staying until Saturday also allowed some of the students to participate in the Women’s March, Rehn said. He added that “the number of people on Saturday outnumber what we saw on Friday.”

For Rehn and his students, having the opportunity to perform on such a national stage was a grand accomplishment they were able to share with the entire community.

The Montgomery residents had helped the small group raise money for the trip and gave them a hero’s welcome when they returned, complete with fire engines and police cars lining the streets.

“We definitely could not have done this alone,” Rehn said. “It was a community event, not just a band event.”

Students from St. John Neumann Regional Academy also attended the inauguration after they received tickets from U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station.

The school received eight tickets and the high school students competed for them through an essay contest on any politician from 1900 to the present that showed political courage, according to Kathy Bahr, development director for the school. Winners were selected by the school staff.