LAPD Olympic Area Commanding Officer, Captain Tina Nieto was fortunate enough to travel to Washington, DC for the Inaugural celebration last week. The Larchmont Buzz invited Captain Nieto to share this special experience with our readers and we think you will agree – her personal story is heart-warming and inspirational. Enjoy!
This was my third trip to Washington DC: the first was as an ROTC Cadet for a military conference twenty five years ago; the second several years ago to visit family; and finally this year for my first Presidential Inauguration – live and in person. It was quite exciting to get to go to an event such as this, I have only seen the inauguration on television in the past.
My journey began with a simple invitation from the President of the Olympic Booster Association, Brad Lee. He and some community members from the Korean American community were planning a trip to attend the Presidential Inauguration. It was going to be just a few days from Saturday morning out of LAX, and back to LA late Tuesday night, so I was able to get the time off of work in order to attend the trip. Don’t worry, Olympic Area was in good hands with our new Patrol Captain Pete Zarcone.
Since I was tagging along with community members, Saturday night started out at a political mixer for Asian Pacific Islander leaders from around the nation. I was honored and humbled to be a guest. During this event I met a gentleman from LA who is going to partner with the Olympic Division to bring a music program to the police station for our underprivileged children. Right away this trip was paying big rewards for our community, and it wasn’t even a business trip. I guess as a public servant it runs in my blood to take advantage of partnerships with others, no matter what the circumstance in which it comes.
The next day was set aside for sightseeing. It was cold and DC was packed with people coming to the Inauguration. My favorite stop of the day was the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln has always been one of the three people, living or dead, I would most like to have dinner with (even before the recent movie), the other two being Jesus, and my grandmother.
Sunday evening I attended the Pearl Gala, the premier Asian American Pacific Islander ball for the Inaugural activities. The Presidential Pearl Gala brought together members of Congress, Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities, friends, allies to the community, and public policy makers to celebrate AAPI political participation. The evening was held at the exquisite 5-star Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. overlooking the Potomac River. It was a night of wonderful cuisine from various Asian countries, a dessert reception and dancing. And no, I am not Asian, I am a Latina, but I have always been comfortable around people of different ethnicities, because underneath it all we are all human beings.
Monday morning I was up early to attend the Inauguration. I had a yellow ticket, so that meant standing in Union Square, and stand we did – in the cold for several hours. Yes it was a long wait but you could feel the excitement in the chilly air of anticipation in seeing the 57th Presidential Inauguration. It didn’t matter what party you were from, it was a moment of great American pride to know that democracy could work, that this is the process where a peaceful election works and continues to work.
When President Obama was sworn in and he addressed the crowd, you could see the hopeful look in people’s faces hoping and praying for a better tomorrow. My hope is that our national leadership can come together in the future to work toward a common good that will benefit our nation and it’s peoples. On a personal note my favorite part of the speech was: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” Maybe one day in the future my domestic partner and I will have the same right to commit to each other, like our straight brothers and sisters, which we both would give up our life to protect without hesitation (she is also in Law Enforcement).
Monday night we had tickets to the Presidential Gala with 40K of the President’s closest friends. Several in our group opted out, myself included. I was tired and my feet were sore. Thinking about getting all gussied up in evening wear a second night in a row was becoming more unbearable than the thought of bipartisanship to both the Republicans and the Democrats. I choose to have dinner with some local politicians instead, and share stories about what the future could be.
Tuesday morning I got to sleep in late, only to find I was coming down with a nasty cold. The temperature was in the 20s and as any native Californian would, when I went outside, I thought I was going to die. Knowing that the tourist sites would still be packed, Brad and I, my traveling companion, took in a movie instead. Yes I flew 3,000 miles to catch a flick, and what did we see, “Gangster Squad”, a movie about the LAPD, lol. That evening it was a fully packed plane back to LAX, giving me a full five hours to reflect on the last few days. I can only hope and pray that both political parties will seek a foundation of tolerance and understanding for each other so that our nation’s peoples may thrive in a society of security, equality and justice living in a world filled with peace and prosperity. If the hope and prayer doesn’t work, maybe the American people can COMPSTAT our politicians and hold them accountable.