Vowing to make America “greater than ever before,” President-elect Donald Trump rallied cheering supporters at the Lincoln Memorial Thursday evening just hours away from taking the oath of office.
“This is a movement that has never been seen like this, anywhere in the world,” Trump told a crowd of thousands, gathered to see not only the president-elect but the free concert of country and rock acts in the shadow of the Washington Monument.
On President Obama’s last full day in office, Trump and his team made the rounds across Washington to prepare for the transfer of power on Friday. Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and their families landed in the nation’s capital earlier Thursday morning, making his last journey from New York as a private citizen — 18 months after launching a presidential bid that was largely written off by the pundits at the time.
“We are going to unify the country. We are going to make this country great again for everybody,” Trump told supporters, before scaling the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with his family as the U.S. Army Band played patriotic songs and fireworks lit up the night sky.
It was a very Trumpian end to Inauguration Eve.
Earlier in the day, the pair attended a Republican leadership luncheon held at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, just blocks from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
He and Pence were joined by incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Presidential Inauguration Committee Chairman Tom Barrack and CEO Sarah Armstrong, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as other Cabinet nominees and Trump administration staff.
Soon-to-be first lady Melania briefly addressed the gathering and then handed off to Trump, who tossed praise and recognition to those in the audience, including Health and Human Secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price, before the pool camera was removed from the room.
“We are all ready to go to work,” Pence said at a morning appearance. “In fact, we can’t wait to get to work for the American people to make it great again.”
The first official event of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States was a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
While Trump paid respects to the nation’s military and veterans, supporters were making their way to the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial to secure spots for the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration, the concert featuring country singer Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood and the band 3 Doors Down.
Trump and Pence were spending the evening at a candlelight dinner with major donors at D.C.’s Union Station and were set to stay overnight at the Blair House, across the street from the White House.