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Unity, touching moments highlight for 4-Hers

A delegation of Crow Wing County 4-Hers pose in front of the U.S. Capitol building Friday while attending the inauguration of Pres. Donald Trump. Pictured are Jack Kimbler (left), Aaron Sopelle, Kirsten Schroer, Elise Sopelle, Madeline Hinrichs, Emelia Hinrichs and Susanne Hinrichs. Submitted photo

Six Crow Wing County teens were among the thousands to experience the inauguration of Pres. Donald Trump Friday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The 4-Hers were selected to attend the event as part of the 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus program and spent much of the week in the nation's capital. The group was standing in the blue zone, directly behind the seating area, thanks to some tickets provided by Rep. Rick Nolan's office.

Selected from Crow Wing County were Kirsten Schroer, Aaron Sopelle, Elise Sopelle, Emelia Hinrichs, Jack Kimbler and Madeline Hinrichs. The group arrived for the event at 6:30 a.m., standing for nearly seven hours straight.

"I think it was really neat today to see the peaceful handing over of power from one political leader to the next," said Aaron Sopelle, 16. "That's what they've been teaching us about here at 4-H."

"When the band and choir started playing, everyone just became silent," said Madeline Hinrichs, 16. "You couldn't hear anything but the people singing and playing in the band. Everyone just respected that."

Susanne Hinrichs was selected as an adult chaperone, undergoing the same application process as the teens. She said the feeling of unity experienced at the event was touching.

"There was chanting that went on while people were speaking, and some of it was, 'U.S.A., U.S.A.,'" Susanne Hinrichs said. "It really gave you a unified feeling. ... Some of that that happened today that we got to witness were really touching."

Emelia Hinrichs, 14, said it was touching to witness the last moments of Pres. Barack Obama's presidency.

"I think a lot of people liked him, so we were pretty sad about that," she said.

Others pointed to the emotions brought up by the music at the event.

"It was inspiring, listening to the Marine Corps band," Aaron Sopelle said. "I really liked how they were able to time all of their pieces with the delegates walking out of the doors."

Schroer, 16, said the music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was beautiful.

"I'm the biggest choir nerd on the planet," Schroer said. "When I found out they would perform, I said I think my week has just been made."

Friday afternoon, the group was preparing for its final event of the trip, an inaugural ball on a Potomac River cruise. While in D.C., they also had a chance to visit several museums and monuments and attend workshops, hear speakers and participate in a mock election—all with the goal of teaching the young people more about the executive branch and the U.S government.

Among the favorite experiences mentioned were the opportunity to see the many embassies of other countries, the chance to visit the American History museum of the Smithsonian and the process of engaging in town hall meetings with other 4-Hers from around the country.

The group was scheduled to travel back to Minnesota Saturday.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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