The day before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Colorado Republican political operative Dustin Olson was busy at work, as he had been for a month a half in Washington.
He was busy with the details of an Inauguration Day concert at the Lincoln Memorial when he looked out over the National Mall. The enormity of the moment settled in.
“In that moment, it became real: Donald Trump was about to become president of the United States, and we were part of it,” Dustin remembered recently in the run-up to Trump’s first 100 days in office.
“To play a little part in helping write history was simply amazing.”
Dustin and two other members of his Olson Strategies & Advertising team — his wife and the firm’s management partner, Carolyn, and partner Sean Bartley — were associate executive producers for the inaugural committee.
Sean said he was moved most by the prayer service at the National Cathedral with the Rev. Franklin Graham the morning after the inauguration.
“No matter what walk of faith people came from, we were all gathered for a fresh start for our country and praying for America,” he recalled.
The Olson team have been reliving the dream lately. Dustin penned an op-ed Sunday for the Colorado Springs Gazette with his take on President Trump’s first three months in office.
Dustin shared exclusively with Colorado Politics what it was like to have a hand in such a huge and historic event, no alternative facts.
Dustin was focused on concerts, but the team’s duties included arranging the inaugural parade on Jan. 20 with more than 6,000 non-military participants, along with hundreds of band members, singers and horses.
“And every one of them had to be screened in advance by the Secret Service,” Sean said, adding the horses also had to have paperwork.
Carolyn will remember the veterans.
“It was an incredible honor to spend time with these men who had fought for us in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, some of whom had lost limbs,” she said. “To walk the parade route alongside them will be something I will never forget.”
The adventure started with a podcast last spring.
Olson interviewed Republican National Convention organizer Bill Greener for Olson’s “Political Trade Secrets” about the veteran politico’s work on RNC gatherings back to 1984.
“That was June 17th and delegates were due to arrive July 17th. We had exactly 30 days to create the convention program,” Dustin said. “So, Carolyn, Sean and I rolled into action. We didn’t get the green light to start contacting speakers until July 5th. It happened in a very short timeframe. And I was proud of the program the team produced.”
In November, Greener tapped the Olson team again for the inauguration.
Here’s Dustin’s shameless plug for his company (after managing security clearances for horses, in my book he’s entitled):
“We work in this field because we hope to inspire and empower those who want to make a difference in their community, their country and the world. Through our involvement with the inauguration we helped thousands of Americans be a part of this great tradition.
“That memory will live with them for the rest of their lives. We are a company with national experience at the highest level of politics; yet we also have a lot of heart for the candidate who is running for office at the city or county level, and we bring national level experience to smaller races on behalf of candidates who wouldn’t otherwise have it. We can be working for Donald Trump one moment, then working for someone who’s running for city council the next, and we take the experience from one and apply it to the other. That gives Olson Strategies & Advertising a keen sense of what’s going on in the country.”