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2 Californians in Town for Very Different Reasons

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A01

Both left California early Monday morning -- he from San Francisco, she from Los Angeles -- embarked on their missions to Washington.

He is 55, a vegetarian pacifist and laid-off software engineer who has lived in a commune and owns a fuel-efficient hybrid car with the bumper slogan "Terrorism Prevention Vehicle."


Anna Bryson is an enthusiastic supporter of the president's: "He's the only politician I have ever met that actually heard what I said to him and took the time to look me in the eye." (Andrea Bruce Woodall -- The Washington Post)

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She is 60, a recently widowed antiabortion Catholic, the daughter of an Air Force general and an opponent of same-sex marriage.

He is staying in a spartan youth hostel in Takoma Park; she in the J.W. Marriott Hotel, near the White House.

He comes to mourn, and protest, tomorrow's second inauguration of President Bush; she, her luggage packed with four ball gowns, is in Washington to rejoice.

Jon Bjornstad of Santa Cruz and Anna Bryson of Dana Point, about 400 miles down the Pacific coast, are among the thousands of people pouring into the area to celebrate or protest the president's inauguration.

Both are accomplished middle-aged Americans who have experienced life's joy and sorrow. Both have strong political convictions, reached via vastly different routes. In their coast-to-coast pilgrimages, they typify the chronic national divisions that are being replayed on the inaugural stage in Washington this week.

Bjornstad, who volunteered for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry during the election campaign, said of Bush: "I can't believe he's our president. . . . He's such a misspoken, bumbling fool."

Bryson, who worked on Bush's behalf last year and four years ago, said: "He's the only politician I have ever met that actually heard what I said to him and took the time to look me in the eye."

Bjornstad, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., believes that the United States has become a kind of global bully.

Bryson, a third-generation Texan by birth, believes that the country must make a stand against terrorism.

Bjornstad, who has a reserved ticket to the swearing-in ceremony, has been trying to think of an appropriate public protest. Should he simply walk out, kneel and pray or stage a sneezing fit?

"I have to do something," he said. "I want to do something that is actually productive, that might make people think [about] what is going on here."

Bryson, whose husband, Jeff, died of lung cancer in July, traveled to the city with her 15-year-old grandson and a business associate.


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