by Bianca Strzalkowski
This week’s inaugural events showcase the pomp and circumstance that can only the Armed Forces can deliver.
More than 8,000 people will follow the President and Vice President as they proceed 1.5 miles from the Capitol to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, continuing a tradition that began with Thomas Jefferson in 1801, according to a press release from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The parade will follow the official swearing-in of President Donald J. Trump as the new Commander-in-Chief, and Mike Pence as Vice President.
Included in the parade groups are military and veteran service organizations, like AMVETS — a veterans organization representing more than 250,000 members.
AMVETS National Executive Director Joseph Chenelly said even though his group has participated in previous inaugurations, this will be the first time they were approved to march in the parade.
“Anytime we can bring some visibility to our veterans, give them an opportunity to be heard, and raise the visibility of veterans to be at high profile events we are happy to be there and speak to a lot of the media,” he said.
There will be about 50 people marching on behalf of AMVETS with the veterans in the group hailing from all eras of war — from WWII to present conflicts.
Bonnie Carroll, Founder and Executive Director of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), says she started the parade application process before the election because it was important to have fallen service members included in such a national moment.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to honor those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that every American enjoys and to be part of this historic event to remember and honor and bring our fallen heroes forward into this day means so much to our families, and so much to this country,” Carroll said.
Two-hundred Gold Star family members will be marching in the parade representing “every type of loss,” she added. They each will wear a button displaying their loved one.
In addition to organizations like AMVETS and TAPS, current serving military members of all service branches will be participating.
The 1st Infantry Division Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard traveled from Fort Riley, Kansas, and spent the week prepping the horses for noises that may arise. The personnel will wear traditional Civil War garb. 1stLT Alex Schade, Executive Officer, says the Color Guard will leave an impression on onlookers.
“I think their impression is typically — wow I didn’t know there were real soldiers who did that, that that is a real job in the Army and two I think there’s a pretty deep sense of appreciation that the division is so dedicated to preserving that part of history,” Schade said.
To live stream today’s inaugural activities, visit: 58th Presidential Inauguration.