- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A southern Indiana city put up signs announcing itself as Vice President Mike Pence’s hometown on Friday, the same day he was sworn in.

At the same time President Donald Trump was giving his inaugural address, a couple hundred people attended a downtown Indianapolis rally promoting a message of inclusion for those feeling threatened by his presidency.

Pence, who was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is the sixth vice president from Indiana and the first since Huntington’s Dan Quayle in 1989-93 under former President George H.W. Bush.

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HOMETOWN HONORS

Crews in Columbus erected signs noting its status as Pence’s hometown at two entryways into the city just before Pence took the oath of office in Washington.

The new signs are along U.S. 31 on the north side of the city and Indiana 46 on the west side. The Pence signs are just above those touting Columbus’ other favorite son - former NASCAR champion driver Tony Stewart.

A few dozen people attended an inauguration watch party at Columbus City Hall.

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INCLUSION RALLY

The Belong Indy rally on Monument Circle in Indianapolis included speakers worried about immigration, the environment, women’s rights and race issues during Trump’s presidency. They stressed not giving up and the importance of making differing opinions and voices heard.

Several people said their presence at the rally was a reaction to Trump and Pence.

Protester Aaron Black said he regarded Trump as “very exclusive,” particularly in regard to remarks about Mexican immigrants, Muslim registries and women. He said he attended the rally to send the message that “America is an inclusive country.”

Hannah Chen said she felt like “standing up to bullies” and that she hoped to uplift the voices of those that may be marginalized.

When Joel Reichenbach, who attended the rally with Chen, said he hoped to spread that everyone is welcome and belongs, Chen quipped, “Mike Pence, take note.”

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INAUGURATION PRESENCE

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb had a prime seat at his predecessor’s inauguration as vice president.

Holcomb sat a few rows from the spot on the inauguration platform where Trump and Pence took their oaths of office Friday. Holcomb was Pence’s lieutenant governor and replaced him as governor on Jan. 9 after winning the November election.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly also attended the inauguration. He said afterward he looked forward to working with Trump to strengthen the economy and protect jobs.

Republican U.S. Rep. Luke Messer took Pence’s place in Congress four years ago. Messer says Pence will be a strong voice for Indiana in the White House.

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PRAYER GATHERING

Dozens of people converged on a northern Indiana courthouse to pray for the nation and its leadership as Trump was being sworn in as president.

Speakers at Friday’s noontime gathering outside the Elkhart County Courthouse in Goshen offered songs and prayers for hope and national unity.

Goshen College administrator Richard Aguirre said Friday’s event wasn’t an “anti-Donald Trump rally.” He said the goal was “to pray for our leaders and our country, express hope for the future” and toast tolerance, diversity, equality and unity.

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RAISING THE FLAG

A southern Indiana man who kept an American flag at half-staff in his front yard for more than seven years raised it to full-staff following Trump’s inauguration.

Vietnam veteran Ron Himsel says he lowered his flag as a silent protest to former President Barack Obama in 2009. Himsel gathered with family and friends Friday afternoon to return the flag to full-staff outside his home in Ireland, a small Dubois County town about 45 miles northeast of Evansville.

Himsel said the new president’s message “is what I believe in.”

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