Campus News

An Insider's View of President Bush's Inauguration: Dan Schuberth '06

Story posted January 26, 2005

Daniel J. Schuberth '06, state chairman of the Maine College Republicans, attended the Presidential Inauguration January 19-20, 2005. In the article below, Dan shares some reflections, and offers an insider's view of the event.

Reflections on the 2005 Inauguration of President George W. Bush
by Daniel J. Schuberth '06

Having worked towards the reelection of President George W. Bush for the past two years in my capacity as State Chairman of the Maine College Republicans, attending President Bush's second Inauguration this past week in Washington was very much like attending a Super Bowl victory party. All of the hard work: the thousands of phone calls made, the doors knocked on, the volunteers managed and the events planned, culminated in an historic victory and an historic Inaugural celebration.

Nine of my hardest working College Republicans from Bowdoin College, Bates College and St. Joseph's College made the trip to Washington. Chris Averill (Bowdoin '06), who has served as Executive Director of the Maine College Republicans for the past year, helped to organize our trip to the ceremonies.

Needless to say, there was seldom a dull moment in our nation's capital! We arrived in Washington on Wednesday morning, and attended an event entitled A Celebration of Freedom, which was held on the Ellipse in front of the White House. This event served as the official opening ceremony for the 2005 Presidential Inauguration. Despite the freezing temperature and aggressive winds, Chris and I joined over 1,000 other revelers as we kicked off the start of many Inaugural events to come. A Celebration of Freedom featured a performance by country music star Kenny Chesney, a speech from astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and a medley of other talent.

At one point, Marines representing each of the 50 states filed onto the stage carrying 50 state flags. I remember looking on with pride as Maine's blue flag was displayed proudly at the front of the line and the crowd looked on with reverence and respect. Our silence was broken by the sharp crash of a cymbal, the loud brass melody of Hail to the Chief, and the announcer's voice stating, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States". A jolt of electricity surged through my body as I rose to my feet to honor the man that I had dedicated my life to helping for the past two years. The President stood with the First Lady in front of the cheering crowd with a smile on his face and his signature twinkle in his eye. Although I had the honor of meeting the President a number of times over the course of the campaign, his presence never fails to fill me with reverence and awe. The President spoke briefly about his Inaugural theme: the preservation and promotion of freedom.

Thursday was a day filled with unforgettable events. We began our day by attending a breakfast hosted by Maine's U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in the Russell Senate Office Building. Maine's Senators have long been friends and supporters of the Maine College Republicans, and our group was honored to be able to visit with them before the Inaugural ceremonies began for the day.

As soon as the breakfast concluded, we rushed to the Capitol building to watch President Bush and Vice President Cheney get sworn in to office for their second term. There were thousands of people in attendance and it was impossible to get anywhere near the steps of the Capitol building, despite our priority seating tickets. We stared ahead into the sea of people with the silhouette of the Capitol building steps in the background and listened to our President and Vice President speak loudly and clearly as they took their oath of office.

I remember thinking to myself how timeless the President's words were as he stood on the Capitol steps and delivered his second Inaugural address. He spoke boldly about his vision for promoting freedom and liberty abroad to protect the freedom and liberty that we enjoy here at home. More so than ever before, I realized that I was listening to a man that had a clear and concise vision for how our country should be run, and the mission we as Americans should be engaged in. Given the events of the past four years that led up to the 2005 Inauguration, I knew that I was listening to an historic speech during a defining moment in our nation's history. I felt safe and secure listening to my Commander in Chief that day; his powerful words both comforted and emboldened me.

Dan Schuberth '06 and Julie Uchitel (Rutgers University '06) at the Inaugural Ball.

Later that evening came the moment that I had been waiting for weeks after the campaign ended: the Inaugural Ball! After the campaign, I received an invitation from President Bush to attend one of the many Inaugural Balls to be held in the evening after the swearing-in ceremony. I was invited to attend the Freedom Ball at Union Station, while Chris was invited to attend the Stars and Stripes Ball at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center.

The Freedom Ball was unique in that it hosted foreign ambassadors from 250 nations, as well as the governors of Alaska and Alabama. The scene was right out of a fairy tale: hundreds of people dressed in tuxedos and glittery ball gowns, Republican leaders making small talk or cutting it loose on the dance floor, television cameras from dozens of national and international networks, and of course, the President of the United States. My girlfriend, Julie, and I spent most of our time at the ball meeting new people from around the country and the world. It was easy to spot the foreign ambassadors due to their colorful official uniforms and unique accents! We also spent time chatting with Maine's 2002 Republican Gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette, and the new Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, Randy Bumps.

Towards the middle of the evening, the familiar crash of the cymbal was heard and Hail to the Chief blared once again. The dignified men and women in their formalwear quickly rushed the stage to catch a glimpse of the President as he asked First Lady Laura Bush to join him for their famous Inaugural dance. As I watched the President twirl around the dance floor with the First Lady, a new thought crossed my mind: That will be me dancing with the First Lady someday.

I was sad to leave Washington after my first Inauguration, because I knew that under the best possible circumstances, this event would not happen again for another four years; on the other hand, this may be the last Inauguration that I will attend for quite some time. After pouring my heart and soul into the reelection campaign of President Bush over the last two years, after putting my Bowdoin education on hold for a semester, and after leading the best organized Republican youth effort in Maine's political history, I was honored to be able to celebrate the triumph of a man that I truly admire and respect. The experience left me with a new energy and determination to continue my activism within the Republican Party, and to promote the values of freedom and liberty that our party holds dear.

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