Inauguration Day: The Pomp and Circumstance

The United States Air Force Band marches along Pennsylvania Ave. during the inauguration practice in Washington D.C. (Department of Defense photo/E.J. Hersom)

Tomorrow’s inauguration of President Barack Obama will be the 57th U.S. Presidential Inauguration, and for the 57th time in our nation’s history the U.S. military will provide important support — as they have since the first inauguration in April 1789 when members of the Continental Army escorted George Washington to the first U.S. presidential swearing-in ceremony at Federal Hall in New York City.

The U.S. military support and participation that includes musical units, marching bands, color guards, and salute batteries — the “pomp and circumstance” — is designed to honor the Commander-in-Chief, recognize civilian control of the military and celebrate democracy.

Keeping up with this tradition is the responsibility of the Joint Task Force National Capital Region which coordinates with the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies all military ceremonial participation and support for the Inauguration.

In addition to the bands, color guards and marching units there will many other military units providing specialized support in fields ranging from communications to logistics, medical, legal, command and control and contingency response.

In addition to the men and women from all Military Services, more than 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 32 states and territories will be in the Capital this weekend to support the inauguration, to work with the District of Columbia National Guard and with the U.S. Secret Service, Homeland Security and other agencies in providing traffic control, crowd management, communications, logistical, medical, public affairs, and other functions.

Below is a photo of some of those troops making their way to Washington, D.C.

About 150 members of the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard travel to Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2013, to support the 57th presidential Inauguration ceremony on Monday, Jan. 21.

While all these functions are important, they are not as visible and colorful as the ceremonial functions and support provided by some specialized military units.

For example, the U.S. Air Force Band seen at the top marching along Pennsylvania Avenue during inauguration practice, and below conducting a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s Inaugural Parade. The band has 184 members and is commanded (and conducted) by Air Force Col. Larry Lang, who says, “”We have a ceremonial mission, so we’re always preparing for that. We do parades and ceremonies throughout the year, so it’s not something new to us. The difference here is the size of it.”

Lang tells American Forces Press Service’s Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., “This is exciting. Even though the band performs for the president and the vice president on a fairly regular basis, I am excited because this is on a worldwide stage. We have the privilege of representing all of our airmen all around the world, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Air Force Col. Larry H. Lang, commander of the U.S. Air Force Band, conducts during a dress rehearsal for the Inaugural Parade, at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2013. DOD photo by Claudette Roulo.

Then, there is the “President’s Own,” the U.S. Marine Corps Band that will participate in the Inauguration ceremonies.

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps Band, known as “The President’s Own,” practice military movement and turning drills during a rehearsal at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2013. The band was activated on July 11, 1798, by act of Congress, and will participate in the 57th presidential Inauguration.

The U.S. Air Force’s Honor Guard will join other Honor Cordons and marching units in support of the inaugural events.

It will be the first inauguration for Senior Airman Anthony Wagner, the noncommissioned officer for the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard’s color team.

“I feel pretty honored, pretty proud and a little nervous as well,” he said. “Representing the Air Force to the whole world, you want to put on a good show. I hope I can represent them well, because everyone’s seeing it as me carrying the nation’s colors, representing our country to the world as well.”

One challenge, Master Sgt. Kimberly Muhlecke “charged with maintaining the high standards of the Air Force Honor Guard,” tells Sgt. 1st Class. Marshall Jr. will be the “nine-by-nine” formation in which 81 airmen march together. Formations for most parades, she added, consist of 15 to 18 airmen.

“This is only the second time we’ve used the nine-by-nine, so we have to get all of our airmen used to marching that large,” she said.

Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Wagner (left) the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Air Force Honor Guard color team, calls commands during a dress rehearsal for the Inaugural Parade at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2013. DOD photo by Claudette Roulo

Below is the U.S. Army 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment Caisson Platoon marching down Pennsylvania Avenue during the dress rehearsal of the presidential inaugural parade in Washington D.C., Jan. 13, 2013.(DoD Photo by Spc. David M. Sharp)

Finally, four of our military have already participated in the preparations for the Inauguration Ceremony by “standing in” for the President, Vice President and their ladies during a dress rehearsal for Inauguration Day activities.

Left to right: Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rachel Washko, Marine Corps Master Sgt. Richard Bolin, Air Force Staff Sgt. Serpico Elliott Army Spc. Delandra Rollins meet with reporters after representing President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives during a Jan. 13, 2013, dress rehearsal for Jan. 21 Inauguration Day activities in Washington, D.C. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

Added

Although not part of the military involvement in Inauguration activities, cannot resist adding this wonderful photo. Enjoy!

First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and her grandchildren, come out on stage during the Kids’ Inaugural Concert as part of the Inauguration weekend celebration at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2013.

Photos and Sources: DoD and American Forces Press Service

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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