If you were watching the 58th presidential inauguration on TV, you got to see the historic peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected leader to another close-up, but being there in person among the throngs of people -- from student groups, to young couples, to multi-generation families -- watching it at the National Mall in front of the Capitol was an experience in and of itself.
From watching the sun quietly rise behind the Capitol building to the gradual build up as the United States Marine Band began to play, to the uproarious moment Donald Trump finished his inauguration speech, feeling the ebbs and flow of the masses as the historic moment unfurled demonstrated just how passionate inauguration spectators were.
After the melodies from the band began waking the pre-dawn crowds from their quiet and sleepy yet excited state, more and more people began flooding into any open patches of grass in the Mall. People ditched their blankets and ponchos spread on the ground to stand and watch as the announcer broadcast the arrival of high profile politicos -- a big cheer for George W. and Laura Bush, and very audible groans at the mention of Nancy Pelosi's name.
Barack and Michelle Obama received some cheers here, a group of boos over there, but the name that drew the largest response up to that point was Clinton. As the big screens showed Bill and Hillary Clinton arriving the crowd immediately and eagerly began to boo. Then off to the left hand side some sort of chant began to emerge and as it spread across the crowd you could make out what it was – "Lock her up! Lock her up!" The phrase that was popular along the campaign trail soon faded off as new faces appeared on the big screens.
Paul Ryan and Mike Pence were greeted with big applauses, but it was Melania Trump's entrance that garnered an even more impassioned reaction. Her eye-catching light blue ensemble almost reminiscent of Jackie O. drew everyone's eyes to the screens with cheering from one end of the Mall to the other. Donald Trump's entrance soon after brought the cheering to a crescendo that turned into nearly competing chants of, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" and "Trump! Trump! Trump!"
As the crowd eagerly awaited President Trump's inaugural address, some spectators began to get impatient with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer's speech. At one point he referenced "times of strife," and someone in the crowd yelled out, "Like now!" You could hear the chuckles across the audience as anticipation grew.
After taking the oath, the crowd erupted once again when Trump returned to the podium to give his official address. Promising that "we are transferring the power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American people" and vowing to "buy American and hire American" clearly hit a chord with spectators as cheers rang out throughout the speech.
And the crowd exploded after Trump declared, "When you open your heart to patriotism there is no room for prejudice." The end of his speech was met with uproarious applause and cheers. The energy in the middle of crowd was palpable -- people were waving their hats and energetically pounding their fists in the air. One audience member could be overheard proclaiming, "What a speech!"
After Jackie Evancho performed the national anthem, some viewers began to slowly trickle out in an attempt to beat the crowds. Others stayed through to the end and lingered afterward to pose for photos in front of the Capitol building.
Click through the slideshow above to see snapshots captured from within the masses in the National Mall from sunrise at the Capitol to the moment the presidency was officially passed from the 44th to the 45th president.