Well, folks, I have done what follows in bits and pieces and various places today and am now having technical issues so shall sign off. Have tons more photos and will try to get those posted later tonight or tomorrow morning. (made the same promise last night as I was writing!). I’ll be going to the shrine of the Immaculate Conception about 1 tomorrow and then start signing books at 2 – then the March for Life Mass at 5;30 – will be seated somewhere in the sanctuary.
I think St, Gabriel is a patron of communications so I’ll pray to him! God bless!
“…PROMISES TO KEEP AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP…”
I’ve been trying for days to find a block of time where I could sit down and write a decent column and post a lot of photos of the inauguration and other events I attended this weekend. This may be the day and time but I won’t promise anything!
I have remained in Washington, as you probably know, to attend and be part of the 44th annual March for Life that takes place in the capital this Friday, preceded by Mass at the basilica shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday at 5:30 pm. I’ve posted some March-related news on my FB page and will try to keep you current on that!
The bookstore at the shrine has arranged another book-signing event for me on Thursday, starting at 2 pm or a bit before, and I am thrilled. I always look forward to meeting fans –readers of this column, TV viewers and listeners of EWTN Radio (“Vatican Insider” and my time with Teresa Tomeo on Wednesdays, etc. We did a show this morning and she arrived DC this afternoon.)
At 11 am today I joined Callista Gingrich at the Heritage Foundation for a presentation by Newt, one in a series of talks he has been giving there. It was a great talk by Newt on the meaning of President Trump’s inaugural address – he posted a FB live so I will share that with you all. At the end he introduced his wife to the gathering and then introduced yours truly! I was stunned but loved it, of course. Several people came up to me afterwards and I have since received some emails!
The past days have been some of the most incredible in my life, a life of many incredible moments! Attending the inauguration certainly was a first, followed by the afternoon viewing of the parade (part of it), followed by the evening’s “hottest ticket in town” as I was told, the Liberty Ball in the presence of the new president, vice president, their lovely wives and beautiful families! It was one of the longest, happiest, most exciting and, in many ways, surreal days I’ve ever experienced!
I’ve written a bit about the walking – the 36 to 40 blocks that Kathy and I and hundreds of thousands of others had to walk on Friday to reach the various venues. So many streets were closed in the center of DC that at times we almost despaired of reaching a street that actually had traffic and would therefore possibly have taxis.
A taxi took us as far as he could in the morning to reach the Capitol, and then it was walking, following arrows and security and police officials. No one entered any official venue (inauguration, parade, balls, the Thursday night entertainment) without an official ticket and photo ID.
President Trump arriving Capitol after visit to White House:
As I look back on the entire day I have to say everything seemed to work as planned (including expected demonstrators but not the fires they set or windows they broke): the security was beyond massive and functioned perfectly in all venue areas. Walking distances were long but it was all part of security measures. Signs were clear. Security and police were professional and polite (many being from out of state).
The newest adjective, as you know, is YUGE and that just starts to describe the security measures – cement barriers, 8-foot high fences, rows and rows of busses and big vehicles lining streets that would thwart anyone coming in (as was done in Nice last July) with a truck to mow people down or carry an explosive.
I saw more police cars in a 48-hour period in DC than I’ve probably seen in the last 6 months!
Those of us who had tickets to events all had to face the same challenges (security, walking, etc) and we all basically went along with the flow. The day promised some rain and many of us – having heard people on TV announce that we could now bring the once banned umbrellas – had umbrellas but they were all confiscated. Mine was very small and was inside my purse but the security people went through everything in our bags (no backpacks or big bags allowed), saw it and made me throw it away.
Later, at the Liberty Ball, security made me throw away a very small spray bottle of my favorite perfume: the plastic container was perhaps two inches high and had maybe a fraction of an ounce of perfume. I was willing to spray some perfume on to show it was not a lethal spray but that was not allowed. I was upset but what can you do. They overlooked nothing apparently. No exceptions made.
Friday morning, when my friend Kathy and I got to our Green Ticket Seating area at the capitol I was stunned to hear someone shout, “Joan, it’s Joan from Rome!” I mean, tens of thousands of people all around us at the Capitol and I actually ran into a friend, Susan Bossie, who was with her four children! Added to that, once Kathy and I were seated a few rows in back of Susan, two women came in and sit next to us and happened to be – I still can’t believe this! – two ladies I met in Rome at La Vittoria restaurant, fans of mine! I don’t think even Las Vegas would want to place odds on that happening!
We were surrounded, as you’d imagine, by like-minded people at the inauguration – conservatives, Republicans who were pro-life and whose main concern (like mine) in this election was who the candidates would name to the Supreme Court and we knew Trump was our man in that respect, that he’d name people who would defend life, traditional marriage, religious freedom, etc.
There were mega screens placed all around the Capitol grounds and we could watch as senators, congressmen, justices, former presidents, etc. were shown arriving at the dais. Great applause greeted the Obamas and applause greeted the Clintons as well, with many people admiring the courage it must have taken for Hillary Clinton to be present. It honestly had to be a very difficult moment for her.
Speakers for the most part were treated quite well but there were huge signs – what I called a ‘vocal wave’ – of negativity when Democratic Senator Schumer spoke as people shouted, “USA” and “We want Trump.”
Applause punctuated President Trump’s talk at many intervals – I’m sorry I did not count the times. Had I possessed a written copy of his talk, I’d have marked the specific spots where we applauded. If you wondered why you did not see tons of flags waving, they (like any pointed object) were prohibited at the venue. If people had flags to wave, they were not on a small pole or stick – they were simple banners.
Trump arrives on dais:
(It was interesting later that evening to hear and read media reports of his talk and its was, like, did they attend the same inaugural I did?
A light rain began as the president spoke but did not last long. No umbrellas, of course, but I had bought ponchos for Kathy and myself, as had thousands around us.
After the inaugural ceremony we took quite some time to make our way to the Canadian embassy as the ambassador was hosting a buffet lunch and viewing of the inaugural parade. The Gingriches had put our names on the guest list and we were treated royally. Viewing the parade from the embassy rooftop was a privileged spot indeed – and I understand this is the best place in town for July 4th fireworks!
We were greeted with a gift after we showed our ID and got our name badges – lovely, warm and much-needed red and white mittens with the Canadian maple leaf on them! As we left we also got a marvelous bag (aka swag?) filled with many gifts, typical Canadian products (except for bacon and maple syrup). Thank You and Merci Canada!
The parade started over an hour late and we watched just a small portion as we had to return to the hotel, have a bite to eat before the ball and then dress for that gala event. If the earlier part of the day was any sign of things to come, we knew it would take a lifetime to walk to a street with traffic, and thus find a taxi to take us home. As it was, walking was well over an hour and, all told, it took us 90 minutes to get to our hotel!
After a light dinner in the room and a brief period off our feet, we left the hotel at 8 for the Liberty Ball. That was probably the easiest of the three events to get to, even though security was massive because the president and vice president would be there, simply because we only had to walk about 3 blocks, instead of 6 or 8 or more.
As I said on one video I posted, we had a ball even though there was little dancing involved in the Liberty Ball. There was entertainment and people were there to see and be seen and to meet friends and that is mainly what we did – met a lot of friends and met new people as well. The Gingriches and Kathy and I were invited into the VIP section of the Ball (I actually thought everyone there was a VIP!) and that’s where I met some of the nation’s movers and shakers.
How many truly interesting, powerful people I met and spent time with, people whose names are often in the news and on TV and the front pages of the papers, and yet, as we spoke, they seemed like my next door neighbor, very down to earth individuals, people who love their country, concerned for the country’s future and their own, many with their kids or young teens in tow, most of whom wore their faith and patriotism on their sleeve. It was a remarkably heady evening!
Two very special moments occurred when two young men, at different times, came up to me and introduced themselves as “a great fan of EWTN and Joan’s Rome!” I mean, really, my fans in the midst of so many thousands of people!
The day ended with another miracle – a ride back to the hotel in a private car!