Mainers attending the inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C., Friday said they were inspired and filled with hope for the future after hearing Donald Trump’s first speech as the 45th U.S. president.

“I thought it was wonderful and inspiring,” said Laura Zajac of Cape Elizabeth, one of the many Mainers in the nation’s capital to watch Trump take the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol.

Trump’s inaugural address lasted about 20 minutes and echoed the populist themes of his campaign. He described abandoned American factories as “tombstones” and vowed to bring back jobs, while rebuilding schools and roads. He said Washington, D.C., now would listen to people who feel left behind.

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump said as light rain fell.

Zajac, a 47-year-old mother of three teenagers, said she was filled with pride to witness her first inauguration. She believes Trump struck the right chord in his remarks.

“I look forward to a unified America and encouraging business,” she said.


Zajac said that there were many young, passionate people on the National Mall, although numerous media outlets reported that the crowds overall were noticeably smaller than for recent inaugurations.

“People are emotional about this and it’s very nice to see,” said Zajac, the president of an engineering firm.

Julie Sheehan also was attending her first inauguration. The event was particularly meaningful for the 49-year-old real estate agent from Cape Elizabeth, who was an early supporter of Trump. She went to the state and national Republican conventions, and was present when one of Maine’s delegates cast a vote in the Electoral College for Trump.

“It was like I have come full circle,” she said. “It’s almost unreal.”

Sheehan said the mood in the crowd at the inauguration was upbeat and positive. The mother of three said the most powerful moment came at the end of the speech when the crowd joined Trump in articulating his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” “He is giving back the United States to the citizens and we will unite and we will make America great again,” she said.

Adam Ratterree, 35, of Belfast, was an early Trump supporter who helped organize grassroots support in Waldo County. After hearing the speech, he was convinced that Trump would be a president for all Americans and act in the country’s best interests.


“It was a breath of fresh air,” Ratterree said.

Top-ranking Republican officials, including Gov. Paul LePage and outgoing Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett, also attended the ceremony.

The governor’s daughter, Lauren LePage, was there, as well, and said the day was “absolutely historic” and “really moving.” The 28-year-old Waterville resident works as executive director of Maine People Before Politics, an advocacy group formed to advance her father’s agenda, and was the Maine coalitions director for the Trump campaign.

A law student, she said one of the biggest moments during the ceremony was seeing the former presidents and first ladies introduced before Trump was sworn in, highlighting the peaceful transfer of power between presidents.

“It showed this amazing tradition this country has,” she said.

Aaron Chadbourne, a 33-year-old senior policy adviser for Gov. Paul LePage, said he didn’t know what to expect at the inauguration. Though there were sporadic disruptions and chaos outside the security area, he said the event he witnessed was peaceful and well-organized.


“I think I was struck by the mood,” the Gorham native said. “It was a very reverential atmosphere.”

Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, sat in front of the Capitol and watched as high-profile dignitaries and politicians such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were ushered to their seats Friday morning. Espling, a national Republican committee member from Maine, was in a group with other committee members who were up at 5 a.m. to get to their spots. While her direct view of the stage wasn’t great, she said, there were giant television screens set up so people could see what was happening.

Espling was impressed with Trump’s speech, even though he wasn’t her first choice. She said she hopes that people will rally around Trump, for the sake of the country.

“Overall, I thought he had a good message and decent points,” Espling said. “I certainly think it’s good for our country to have a positive attitude and hope for the future. That means supporting the leaders we have in our government and hope that they do a good job. We all will benefit from (Trump) doing a good job.”

Before the address, the city was buzzing with security personnel and visitors making their way to positions along the parade route or taking their seats in the grandstands to watch Trump being sworn in.

“It’s just a little drizzle right now, but not bad,” Brad Littlefield, a Scarborough resident, said in a telephone interview shortly before Trump was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. Littlefield and his friends were taking in the sights as they familiarized themselves with the city’s underground train system and scoped out a spot near the junction of 15th Street and New York Avenue to watch the inaugural parade.


As the parade got underway, anti-Trump protesters burned piles of trash and set a limousine on fire after the windows were smashed out.

Littlefield said security was tight, with Jersey barriers and dump trucks full of sand being used to block vehicle access to streets that are normally busy with traffic. He said helicopters buzzed in the skies above and there was a large police presence on the ground.

“There’s no petty crime going on down here today,” Littlefield said. He said their group witnessed only one small anti-Trump protest, but that had been contained to a small area and, for the most part, things were peaceful. He also said that while security was tight, it wasn’t overbearing and didn’t dampen the “party atmosphere.”

“You never see one police car. You see four if they are going anywhere,” Littlefield said. “But it’s not so bad that you can’t breathe, either.”

He said the lobby of the hotel where they stayed Thursday night had to be evacuated and a bomb squad called in, but that turned out to be a false alarm and the disruption was minimal. He and friends traveled to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial where Trump greeted his supporters.

Littlefield also attended a reception for Mainers on Thursday with Sen. Susan Collins and offered her one dance slipper for the inaugural ball, a joke about Collins’ injured right ankle. She broke it over the holidays in a fall on ice at her Bangor home. Collins was still in a cast, Littlefield noted, and not likely to be doing much dancing.


Sheehan and Zajac, the women from Cape Elizabeth, said they were caught up in a police clash with anti-Trump protesters outside the National Press Club on Thursday night. At some point, a smoke device was set off, and the women took refuge in a nearby store. “It turned rather quickly,” Sheehan said, noting that people began coughing as a result of the smoke. “It got a little scary.”

Staff Writer Scott Thistle contributed to this report.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

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