The gravity of the moment wasn't lost on Reynolds, a proud Republican and Vietnam-era veteran. He said, however, he and his wife Carol would have been there even if Trump hadn't won the Nov. 8 election.
“We got to see it and participate and connect with a lot of people,” he said. “I happen to be a Republican, but we're Americans first.”
When asked about the “America first” message in Trump's 16-minute speech, Reynolds described it was a brief summation of all the sentiments that got Trump elected. He offered the opinion that Trump's speech wasn't as partisan as New York Sen. Charles Schumer's remarks, which preceded Trump's.
He described the mood in the VIP area where he and his wife were seated as cordial, though he said there were a few who seemed happy to see the the Obamas leave the White House via helicopter.
Headlines following the inauguration were fraught with partisan rancor and — oddly enough — squabbles over how many people were actually in attendance. Reynolds laughed at media reports describing a smaller-than-usual crowd because he saw otherwise.
He said if there was room available on the National Mall during the inauguration, it was because security was incredibly tight and difficult to get through. Reynolds said attendees had to snake their way through a maze of tall fences only to be patted down and “wanded” by security personnel.
“You had to walk four miles to go a mile,” he said. “If anyone had a disability, there would have been no way to do it. They were patting everyone down; it was pretty intense.”
The perimeter outside the Washington Monument, Capitol Hill and the National Mall was also set far back. Reynolds said he took Uber to U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks' office to retrieve his tickets, but the driver had to park more than two miles away.
Brooks later took Reynolds and about 100 others on a personal tour of the U.S. Capitol, and Dr. Reynolds also spent time with Bradley Byrne, the Republican congressman who represents Alabama 1st congressional district.
Friday night, the Reynolds attended the American Legion's Veterans Inaugural Ball, which hosts recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Reynolds, who also serves as treasurer of the National Vietnam Veterans of America, said he enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with some of them. He also met comedian and “The Price is Right” host Drew Carey, who emceed the event.
On Saturday, he and his wife saw the throngs of protestors in town for the Women's March on Washington. When asked if he was concerned about the amount of people angered by a Donald Trump presidency, Reynolds said he believes the nation will eventually work together for the good of the nation.
He pointed to Alabama as an example of success despite a turbulent political landscape. He noted that last year, the state's Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed, Speaker of House Mike Hubbard was convicted of ethics violations and several lawmakers sought the impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley after allegations surfaced about an affair with his top aide.
“Despite all that, we're moving fine,” he said. “The region we live in is prosperous and growing.”
He also believes there were two significant marches that have occurred in the country over the past two and a half months — the one that occurred Saturday and the one that happened on Nov. 8 with a national “march to the polls.”
“The march on November 8 changed our government, while the one on Saturday expressed what they hope government will do,” he said. “People voted, we got a new president and the old one left. That's how it all works.”