I’ve received an invitation to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. It didn’t come from The Donald himself — or other members of the immediate family — but it does include observation of the ceremonies and a reception hosted by the National Association of Counties.
Still, I am checking my Twitter account on an hourly basis in case the prodigious first tweeter himself decides to extend a more personal invite.
As with sporting events, I could probably get a better view of the proceedings in front of my television set, although prior to the invitation I hadn’t given much thought to watching the event at all. However, like going to sporting events, there’s a different spirit in the air if you are present in person, even if you are one of an estimated 240,000 people who will be milling around behind those who are provided with actual chairs — an accommodation my invitation did not include.
At the moment, I’m assuming my participation will look a great deal like the experience of boarding an airline these days with most major carriers. I understand families with children and those needing assistance and even those who serve in the military, but by the time they get through six or eight grades of first class, medallion, platinum, gold, silver and bronze and finally announce that it’s time for the riffraff to hurry on to the plane, you don’t feel particularly special.
The prospect of attending is intriguing because half the people in America believe Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the office spells the end of this country as we have known it. This might be my last chance to ever witness such an important event.
Besides being a monumental, if not surprising moment, in the history of the nation, the planners have put together a rather unique combination of performers.
I haven’t seen the Rockettes perform since 1954 when my parents took me to Radio City Music Hall in New York some 63 years ago this summer. I’m anticipating that most of the cast will be new.
I’ve never seen the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in person although I’ve visited their primary venue in Salt Lake City on a variety of occasions. I do, however, have several of their tapes. I will miss the soprano who resigned in protest, but I’m told almost 100 percent of the choir will be participating.
If I do attend — or watch the proceedings — it will also be the first time I have witnessed a performance by Jackie Evancho of “America’s Got Talent” fame — a show I’ve honestly never seen.
Beyond that, I understand the planning committee is having trouble finding performers. Perhaps that is due to the fact several dozen prominent celebrities announced last fall they would leave the country the day after Trump was elected. Since the group, which included Madonna and Miley Cyrus, are surely now living abroad, the potential list of possibilities becomes more challenging. Or, were they just kidding?
In the end, it is probably a matter of potential financial losses and higher tax structures that are trumping their no doubt thoughtful ideological beliefs. At the very least, I am hopeful no one voted one way or the other solely because Miley Cyrus might flee to Canada. Her new wardrobe choices would never work in the frigid north.
I checked out hotel possibilities in Washington, D. C.. and either hotels are incredibly high in the nation’s capital or lodging prices during special events follow the same pricing principle as rooms in Pendleton during Round-Up or rooms in Pullman when the Cougars play at home. I think I could rent an apartment in Pendleton for a month cheaper than a one-night stay within reasonable commuting distance of this January spectacle.
I was also a bit amused to learn the list of parade participants includes both the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office of field operations and the U.S. Border Patrol pipes and drums. With those groups preoccupied in the capital for several days, who knows what might happen along the Rio Grande while they are gone.
If I did go, an important consideration would be what to wear with temperatures predicted to be on the cooler side. One fashion consultant says elegant and classic would be a good place to start but does that mean elegant and classic Foggy Bottom wear or elegant and classic by Pendleton standards for those of us traveling 3,000 miles to represent Eastern Oregon?
Then there is the fact the average attendee, other than those in the seats, spends about seven hours roaming around the immediate area of the capital and until late evening trying to get home. Since moon boots went out 30 years ago and don’t look good with either jeans or a suit, muck boots have become a common site in bad weather but they, too, don’t make a real fashion statement. And cowboy boots aren’t that comfortable on concrete or for long walks.
I can’t find much about suggested head wear either, although I can order a red, “Make America Great Again” hat from Amazon for $11.99 with free shipping thrown in. None of the models come with ear flaps and there are no ski masks, although you can get a Donald Trump latex face mask for $16.99, which would stave off the wind but might be considered in bad taste.
So many decisions and so little time.
Perhaps my efforts might be better spent praying for the future of our nation and doing what I can to help people come together with a greater degree of mutual understanding and tolerance.
In that vein, I have been reminded of the words of a 13th century Persian poet named Rumi who said: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
This might be a good time to find friends who share different political beliefs in order to search for common ground and understanding. While there is a measure of comfort to be had surrounding ourselves only with like-minded people, it does little to expand our horizons of learning and productive thought. And most of all, it is critical we remember that a sense of humor can help us all through the worst of times.
George Murdock is a Umatilla County Commissioner and former East Oregonian publisher. He lives in Pendleton.