February 8, 2017 Edition

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Attending inauguration
fulfills longtime goal

Jake and Stephanie Guenrich witnessed history on Jan. 20, when they attended the inauguration of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, in Washington, D.C.

John Bland

Jake Guenrich, pastor of First Baptist Church in Walnut Ridge, fulfilled a longtime dream on Jan. 20, when he and his wife, Stephanie, attended the inauguration of President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

President Trump is the 45th U.S. president, and the inauguration ceremony was the 58th to take place.

Jake grew up in North Little Rock, and while a fourth-grader at Victory Baptist School in Sherwood, he was required to write a report on one of the United States presidents. Some of the more popular presidents, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, had already been chosen, so he did his on James K. Polk, the 11th U.S. president.

Part of that assignment included reading Polk's inaugural speech. Since that time, Jake said he had wanted to attend a presidential inauguration, and this year it worked out.

Jake's mother, Amy Guenrich of Branson, Mo., came to babysit with the three young Guenrich children, and on Wednesday morning, Jan. 18, Jake and Stephanie began the 15-hour drive to the Washington, D.C., area. They arrived at their hotel in Alexandria, Va., in the wee hours of the following morning.

Jake had looked into the logistics of the trip and found a hotel within two-and-a-half miles from a Metro station that would allow them to quickly make the approximate 10-mile trip into the heart of Washington, D.C.

The trip to Washington, D.C., was the first for both Jake and Stephanie. During their free time on Thursday, the Guenriches went to the Rayburn House Office Building to pick up their tickets for the inauguration. Jake had previously contacted Cong. Rick Crawford's office to obtain the tickets.

They also visited the National Archives Museum, where they saw the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

They enjoyed walking around, viewing the outside of the Capitol building, the White House and other architecture. "Security was pretty tight everywhere we went," he said.

On the day of the inauguration, Jake and Stephanie arrived in the National Mall by 7:30 a.m. and would wait for the next four hours for the ceremony to begin at 11:30 a.m. They stood near the Reflecting Pool and could view both the stage and a jumbo-tron screen.

The ceremony, including the swearing in of Vice President Mike Pence and Trump, along with Trump's 15-minute speech, lasted only an hour.

"It was probably the best part of the whole thing to see that transition of power take place," Jake said. "I've never been in a crowd that big and so silent" as that transition took place from President Barrack Obama to President Trump.

"All were focused on what he (President Trump) had to say," he added.

A light drizzle of rain fell on and off during the day, but "in the spirit of the day" people didn't complain about the weather.

After the ceremony, the Guenriches chose to have lunch nearby, allowing the Metro crowds time to thin out. They returned to Walnut Ridge the following day.

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