Anthony Taylor was almost too distracted by the surroundings in Washington to listen to Saturday's inaugural address by President Bush.
The loudspeakers weren't working all that well, Taylor said, which allowed him to divert his attention to hundreds of other spectators.
"It was amazing, the number of different kinds of people there," the 21-year-old Baker University senior said in a telephone interview from the nation's capital just minutes after Bush took the oath of office to become the 43rd president of the United States.
"There were little kids, parents, old people, protesters," Taylor said. "I was just happy to be there with all of them. This was definitely the highlight of the trip."
Taylor, along with 20 other Baker students and a professor, will return soon after spending two weeks in Washington. Their trip was part of a class called "History of the Nation's Capital," a tour that gave students first-hand lessons about Washington, capped by the inauguration.
"The purpose is to inspire them," said Lee Green, Baker professor of business and economics. Green said most of the students planned to pursue careers in political science, law or history.
"I hope this experience makes them want to continue to pursue their goals in terms of public service," Green said.
In his speech, Bush moved between waxing poetic and addressing a few specific issues.
But Don Johnston, Republican chairman for Douglas County, thought the tenor of Bush's speech was more important than the individual issues on which he touched.
"It was short, to the point and very presidential," Johnston said from his Lawrence home. "He put forth a tone of civility and community in governing a country."
Although the weather in Washington was dreary, with overcast and drizzly skies, the air was electric for Julia Harrison, 19, another member of the Baker group.
"I can't compare it with anything else," the sophomore said. "I felt happy to be there and a sense of pride, since I'm a big Bush fan. And I feel very fortunate to come on this specific trip. Because it is such a rare and important occasion, that makes it even more special."