Osborne adds to personal history with 2017 presidential inauguration

Published 12:10 am Friday, January 20, 2017

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — As history is made in Washington, D.C., today, Rowan County native Terry Osborne will add to a list of personal experiences that spans four decades.

Osborne has attended nine presidential inauguration ceremonies, some of which were for second-term presidents. His first was in 1973 for Richard Nixon’s second inauguration. Osborne has been to at least one inauguration ceremony for every president since then. It’s not a feat he set out to accomplish, but through his involvement with Republican Party politics, Osborne has always received tickets to the ceremonies.

President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration today will be the 10th that Osborne has attended.

Osborne won’t be the only local resident at the ceremony, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. But he’s likely one of the few with such a solid attendance record.

“I think everyone has great anticipation about what’s going to be said,” Osborne said. “This time, you’re going to hear an inaugural address from someone who is a true outsider, someone who has never been in office before. … I think he’ll get to the point and let everybody know he’s ready to get to work.”

To avoid high hotel prices and heavy traffic, Osborne planned to take a 2 a.m. train to Washington today and return on a 6 p.m. train. He was in Washington weeks ago and paid less than $200 per night. He checked hotel prices for the inauguration weekend, and prices were more than $1,000 per night for a room close to the U.S. Capitol.

This year, he’s got tickets for a standing section just behind the last ticketed seating. The spot ranks better than where he was for the last inauguration he attended — President Barack Obama’s first in 2009. He joked that Republicans typically don’t get prime spots for Democratic presidents.

Osborne, who serves as vice chairman of the local Republican Party, said he attended past inaugurations for Democrats so he could witness history. This year, a number of Democrats in Congress have announced plans to boycott Trump’s inauguration, in part because some don’t see him as a legitimate president.

Osborne has some advice for those members of Congress.

“That proves nothing,” he said. “I mean, it’s part of their job. In a time when we’re all about bringing this country together, you’re the elected officials. There are times when we can put our political differences aside.”

At the time Osborne attended his first inauguration in 1973, when Nixon was sworn in for his second term, he had recently graduated from high school. In 1971, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Because he had worked for Republicans during the 1972 campaign, Osborne received tickets to the 1973 inauguration.

For his second inauguration in 1977, Osborne received tickets because he again worked for Republicans during the presidential campaign. This time it was the Gerald Ford-Bob Dole ticket. The Republicans didn’t win, but Dole held an event in Washington for campaign staff members, so Osborne also got tickets to the inauguration of Jimmy Carter.

Since then, Osborne said he’s been able to get tickets from senators or congressmen from North Carolina. This year, he was one of the 198 people who were given tickets from Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8. Hudson’s office received roughly 400 individual requests for a total of about 2,000 tickets.

Trump will be sworn in at noon today as the nation’s 45th president. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. will administer the oath of office. Trump is expected to give an inaugural address that will last 20 minutes.

After attending so many inaugurations, Osborne said he’s considering making the 2017 ceremony his last.

“I guess you’ll never say never,” Osborne said. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but if it were today, I’d say it would be the last one.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.