Lady Gaga’s National Anthem, Amanda Gorman’s poem, firefighter Andrea Hall’s Pledge of Allegiance, in spoken words and American Sign Language all moved residents who gathered in downtown Port Townsend on Inauguration Day.
“I have such a sense of relief,” said Sara Ybarra Lopez, one of about 50 people who held Biden-Harris signs and American flags high at noon Wednesday. Indivisible Port Townsend organized the celebration at Pope Marine Plaza, inspiring motorists and bicyclists to honk and whoop as they passed.
“This morning, we got up early to start watching right away the new day,” Ybarra Lopez said.
When it came time to make a sign for the rally downtown, she found herself without words. So she pasted a large red heart onto a piece of cardboard and went downtown with her husband Mark Stevenson, who played a tambourine for the small crowd.
At about the same time, hours after the inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, a group of about 20 supporters at the intersection of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street, also waving flags and holding signs, spoke of hope and healing.
Ken Nielsen of Sequim said the gathering was a celebration.
“I’m feeling hopeful,” he said. “I want honesty, decency, inclusiveness and generally to bring people together.”
Louise Marley of Port Townsend joined Garth Brooks in singing “Amazing Grace” a few minutes after President Joe Biden took the oath of office.
“It’s nice to come to one of these things and not be mad about something,” Marley said at the Port Townsend rally.
Steve and Kathy Downer of Sequim said at the Sequim gathering they hope the president and vice president’s first acts address the coronavirus, economy, environment, education and national parks.
In Sequim, Honeybee Burns of Dungeness said she hopes they’ll “do something significant about how people of color are treated and climate change; there’s no hope if we don’t have a planet.”
The morning’s inauguration ceremony “did what it was meant to do,” said Bruce Cowan of Port Townsend.
“The whole ceremony was beautiful. It does something for the American soul to see the transfer of power in public. I thought the presence of [former Vice President Mike] Pence lent dignity as he represented that transfer of power.”
Yet it was Gorman, the 22-year-old poet from California, who inspired her listeners as much or more than the superstar performers on the Capitol stage.
Her Inauguration Day poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was “absolutely brilliant,” said Linda Abbott-Roe of Port Townsend.
She was also moved by Tuesday night’s Lincoln Memorial ceremony honoring the 400,000 Americans whose lives were taken by COVID-19.
“Trump never mentioned all those dead,” she said.
For her, the incoming president’s acknowledgement of the lives lost was badly needed.
Abbott-Roe strove to spread a hopeful message with her homemade “Everything’s gonna be alright!” sign, which she debuted during a post-election rally back on Nov. 7.
“It’s a little weathered,” she said, “but sincere.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]
Mathew Nash of the Sequim Gazette, a sister paper to the Peninsula Daily News, contributed to this story.