ST. PARIS – Having contributed locally to President Donald Trump’s ground game during the 2016 election season, village resident Kathy DeWeese and her son, David, decided to reward themselves with a trip to Washington, D.C. to take in the festivities surrounding the inauguration of the country’s 45th president.
“Attending the inauguration ceremony was rewarding as it gave me a sense of accomplishment – how my work here at the county level was worth it,” DeWeese said.
Despite serving in the U.S. Navy for 23 years and currently employed in the defense industry, DeWeese said prior to last year, she didn’t get too caught up in politics. Her love for her country, however, ultimately drove her into the political scene.
“With our country leaning into globalization, flag burning becoming what seemed like common practice, the country debt out of control, and political correctness taking a nose dive from sanity, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and help where I could,” she said.
Armed with a desire to make her conservative views heard, DeWeese decided to help the Champaign County Republican Party by signing on in early 2016 as the official Champaign County Trump Campaign chairperson.
Trump, however, wasn’t her initial choice for the GOP candidate. Instead, she favored Dr. Ben Carson.
“Both (Carson and Trump) were outside-the-box thinkers, anti-establishment kind of guys, and both were candidates for change,” she said. “Once Dr. Carson withdrew, I was drawn to the Trump campaign by President Trump’s sheer determination and honesty on serious issues like America first, lower taxes, and jobs, jobs, jobs. I knew if the conservative party was going to win, we had to be firm and simple in our message. Trump was doing this, so I jumped on board the Trump train.”
David, a sophomore at Graham High School, decided to hop on the train as well, volunteering his time to work alongside his mother in support of the Trump campaign.
After watching all their hard work pay off on election day, the DeWeeses decided to enjoy the ride right along with Trump to the White House.
“After the election, we attended the Ohio Electoral College vote together in Columbus,” DeWeese said. “Attending the inauguration ceremony and other events seemed like a finale or great way to witness the national election process firsthand and through to the end.”
Before joining hundreds of thousands of people in the nation’s capital for the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, the DeWeeses spent the evening of Jan. 19 enjoying an open air bike ride past some of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic spots.
“David and I rented bicycles and rode around the reflection pool near the Washington Monument, up to the U.S. Capitol Building, the Supreme Court of the U.S. and the Library of Congress,” DeWeese said.
For the inauguration ceremony, itself, the DeWeeses watched the new president sworn in from a standing-area only section located directly behind the last seated section facing the U.S. Capitol Building. Unfortunately, their view of the podium was blocked by scaffolding used by the media, so they had to watch the ceremony on large projection screens.
“I joked with one of my friends that the view on TV (at home) may have been better than our single-perspective view, but the energy level and being surrounded by like-minded Trump supporters made all the difference in the world,” DeWeese said. “I wouldn’t have traded it for a TV experience at all.”
During Trump’s oath of office and subsequent speech, DeWeese said she stood there with her eyes closed and just listened to what the president had to say.
She added Trump’s speech left her with a “renewed hope for great things to come,” while David said his favorite part of the ceremony was hearing Trump talk about putting “America first.”
Following the ceremony, the DeWeeses took in the inauguration parade as well as the Freedom Ball, a black-tie event held in the local convention center. While attending the ball, DeWeese said she ran into U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) and his wife, Polly.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.