Douglas woman recounts inaugural experience
For Beverly Willard, weather conditions over Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20 may have been cold and damp, but the air was filled with patriotism, pride and a new spirit of compassionate conservatism as the nation swore in its 43rd president.
Willard, an Indian Hills resident and Republican National Committee Chairwoman representing the state of Nevada, joined a delegation of Nevadans to celebrate the inauguration of George W. Bush.
“It was wonderful and done with such class,” said Willard of the celebration, which began for her four days before the event.
Joining Willard for the celebration was Earlene Forsythe, chair of the Washoe County Republican Central Committee, Trudy Hushbeck, northern director of the Nevada Republican Party, and Beverly’s husband, Harold.
Attending a series of Republican National Committee meetings and being introduced to scores of fellow Republican dignitaries, Willard said the atmosphere of the nation’s capital was vibrant and refreshing.
“There was a great feeling of joy and optimism everywhere you were,” Willard said.
During her visit, Willard met Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and attended a breakfast function with Nevada Congressman Jim Gibbons. Willard also attended a book presentation by First Lady Laura Bush and a rally of young adults which featured an address by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
“His appearance really got the young people excited,” Willard said. “The theme was ‘You Can Do Anything’ and he (Powell) really did a great job in trying to bring everyone in the fold of optimism.”
Although the Friday event featuring Powell was attended by mostly young adults, Willard said she enjoyed herself and the youthful spirit, but the music “was a bit too loud.”
More to her rural style was country music from the likes of Brooks and Dunn, which kept the entertainment flowing Thursday night during one of several pre-inauguration balls.
Willard said nearly all the festivities she attended carried a sense of Texas spirit and southern hospitality both in style and in mannerisms.
“There was definitely a feeling of Texas all around us,” Willard said. ” And the hats. Everyone had on cowboy hats and boots and the men had black tuxedos.”
The highlight of her stay was the inauguration itself, where she sat across from the White House among thousands of dignitaries and well-wishers to see the swearing-in of the 43rd president.
“There were thousands of people even though it was cold and rainy. And you’d think that some people would be irritable because of the conditions, but they weren’t,” Willard said. “There was just a great sense of pride and patriotism all around us.”
Among the things Willard noticed during the inauguration ceremony was how Bill Clinton was received by attendees when President Bush acknowledged him in his presidential address.
“There was applause for everyone that he introduced, but when it came to Bill Clinton, the audience was quiet. There were even a few chuckles,” Willard said.
Hailing the event as an end to the Bill Clinton era, Willard said her party is set to focus on what is good and positive about the country.
“There are so many good, hardworking, caring and honest people out there who don’t have a hand-out attitude,” said Willard. “I think the skeptics out there will be very surprised by a Bush administration because he does have a good work ethic, is honest and has integrity.”