Through thick fog and unseasonably mild temperatures, ceremonial divisions gathered before daylight Jan. 13 to focus on creating a flawless 57th presidential inauguration.
When Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term Jan. 21, more than 5,000 Military District of Washington servicemembers will witness the historic event. On a Sunday morning eight days before the inauguration, MDW officers and enlisted personnel went through an on-site walk through of the tradition-laden pageantry.
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington commander, personally oversaw key portions of the practice, including the pass in review by the presidential escort on the east side of the Capitol building.
“The rehearsal went very well and there are just a few minor adjustments we will make to get ready for the actual event,” Linnington said in an email statement to the Pentagram. “I am immensely proud of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, all our service counterparts, and our interagency partners for their herculean efforts in planning and coordinating an event of this size, magnitude and significance.”
Also playing integral roles in the inaugural and parade rehearsals were the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall-based The U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, U.S. Army 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment Caisson Platoon, The Presidential Salute Battery and numerous honor guard individuals and companies.
“One of the focus areas we stressed on Sunday was the pass in review for the president on the east Capitol plaza,” said 3d U.S.Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Regimental Commander James C. Markert. “It is apparent the servicemembers from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard want to represent the very best of our professional and disciplined military to the commander-in-chief. I couldn’t have been more pleased by the training and professionalism displayed by the joint services during the pass in review.”
One of the oldest military units to lend their talents to inauguration galas every four years is the U.S. Marine Band, “The President’s Own.” The 2013 swearing-in will be the Marine Band’s 54th inauguration. Even with 212 years of experience, the Marine Band and its drum major practice to perfection.
“I thought the marching portion of the inaugural ceremony went very well,” Marine Band Drum Major Master Gunnery Sgt. William L. Browne said in an email statement to the Pentagram. “'The President’s Own” looked and sounded great on the march. I believe we will represent the Marine Corps very well on inaugural day.”
While overcoats were not essential during the dry run — temperatures hovered in the upper 50 degree range — inauguration day weather could be quite different. With a Jan. 21 forecast of chilly temperatures near the freezing mark and a chance of snow showers, the servicemembers will be fully prepared to march and perform the entire day.
“We layer basically. Each of the services has winter ceremonial garb, and it’s usually one hundred percent wool in their overcoats,” Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rock, senior enlisted sergeant major for the United States Army (The Old Guard) Fife and Drum Corps said during the rehearsal. “We protect the ears, the hands and the head and of course the feet.
“This is very important for a lot of the Soldiers,” added Rock of the significance of the event. “For many of the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, this is the first time they will get to do this before actually doing this [inauguration day]. It is extremely important that we get it right because you only get one shot at it.”
After the pass in review on the east capitol grounds, the focus moved to the capitol’s west side for a swearing in run-through. The practice particulars then shifted from Capitol Hill to the parade route and parade reviewing stand while a parade rehearsal marched through downtown Washington D.C.
Individual and company rehearsals and meetings have and will continue throughout the week in preparation of the 57th presidential inauguration. JBM-HH streets have periodically been closed for Fife and Drum band presidential escort rehearsals.