Regardless of which side of the aisle you land on, the peaceful transition of power is likely America’s most prolific showing of democracy and our way of life. We are a country of diversity and always have been.
Our diversity and compassion for others has guided our nation through world wars, economic downturns and many forms of inequality (i.e., social, economic, religious, etc.). With that said and regardless of the events of the day, our nation has always come ahead better than it previously was. So it was with great pleasure and admiration that we (Mike and Kari Kuehl) were able to attend this year’s inauguration of our 45th president, Donald J. Trump.
Arriving at Washington D.C. on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 19, we settled into our hotel four blocks away from the National Mall. Getting in a little late, we decided to head out to grab a quick bite to eat. On our way, we certainly ran into a number of protestors, but it wasn’t those individuals we would remember. It was the hospitality of the employees at the corner pizza restaurant who helped us decide what to get and told us the story about how the restaurant chain has grown from two locations to 28 within the surrounding D.C. metro area in less than five years. Leaving smiles on our faces, we enjoyed dinner and headed for the door to receive a warm “Have a nice night.” We left the restaurant, headed back to the hotel and settled in for the night.
On the morning of Jan. 20, we jumped into an Uber and headed to the Catholic University of America to meet up with Jack, a student, LaCrosse player, native of Darboy, Wisconsin, and staffer for our local congressman, Mike Gallagher. We met up with Jack, received our inauguration tickets, and headed back to our hotel to get ready for the event. We were told to get there early, and that was no understatement. With a start time for the oath of office scheduled for 11:30 a.m., we headed out around 8 a.m. As we made our way to our designated area, we couldn’t help but feel in the moment as we wound our way passed miles of fencing and blockades, through numerous security checkpoints and countless attendees.
With our point of reference being the 80,000 people who pack Lambeau Field every weekend in the fall, we couldn’t help but be amazed at the seemingly tens of thousands of security officers and hundreds of thousands of individuals in attendance. We settled into our area, which was approximately 200 yards from the podium, at 9:30 a.m. and enjoyed the company of others who had traveled many distances to be at this event, from a couple of New Englanders to a Dallas Cowboys fan from Orange County, California. We shared and heard stories of our football teams and past inaugurations, and the hopes of the future Trump administration. Overall, I think we could say that in the end, we were all grateful Americans.
As the previous presidents took their seats, we heard a multitude of cheers, and yes, some jeers. Overall, however, there was an overwhelming sense of gratitude shown for the former residents of our nation’s most prestigious and coveted home, the White House. Whether it was the Clintons, Bushs or Obamas, we felt as though the reverence and admiration for the office was certainly respected.
It was now time for the moment everyone had traveled so many distances to see. Trump appeared from the halls of the Capitol and the inauguration was underway. Thirty minutes later, President-elect Trump was ready for his oath of office, and set to begin uniting a nation so bitterly divided. It is what we heard in the speech that moved us in that moment and made the event exactly what we were hoping for.
From the first moments of the speech, Trump seemed to strike a tone: It isn’t our congressmen, senators or the president empowered to govern; rather, it is each of us. We simply come together on election dates to nominate those who will represent the people. And as such, Trump proclaimed, “January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.” No longer will we impose our way of life on anyone, “but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow. … We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny. … It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag. … And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator. … Together, we will make America great again.”
As one nation, industry, farm, business and community, let us remember to recognize those around us. Let us recognize our failures and successes while we open our minds to each other. Whether it is opening your farm to the local community or sharing your wisdom with a younger generation, it is the ability to discuss our differences that makes our nation the greatest and most successful on the planet. Similar to the pressure that makes coal into a diamond, our differences create a pressure that makes our nation shine for all to see. Please take a moment to listen to those in and outside our farms, businesses and industry so we can create the pressure needed to make this country a beacon for the rest of the world once again.
Kari Kuehl is the director of sales at Feed Components, a progressive and transformational dairy nutrition group based out of East Troy, Wisconsin. Her passion for the industry can be seen through her industry involvement. She serves as the chair of the American Dairy Coalition’s executive advisory committee, executive member of Dairy Cares of Wisconsin and president of the Wisconsin Farm to Table nonprofit.
PHOTO 1: The Kuehls were within view of the podium when President Trump took his oath and rallied for unity among the nation.
PHOTO 2: Kari and Mike Kuehl arrived early to the National Mall to secure their spot for the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Photos provided by Kari Kuehl.