This past weekend I had the honor of marching in the Inaugural Parade for President Barack Obama at the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Marching past the reviewing stand and meeting eyes with the President was an honor and a privilege that made all the sacrifices of the weekend worth it.
I had volunteered to march in the Inauguration in mid-November and found out that I was selected upon returning from Thanksgiving break. Immediately I had to take a picture and answer several screening questions for the Secret Service background check. As the Inauguration drew closer, I learned more of the itinerary and looked forward to the event more and more.
My fellow cadets and I boarded the buses for the Inauguration on Saturday, two days before the actual event. We drove through the night arriving in Annapolis, site of the United States Naval Academy, early Sunday morning. We were assigned to rooms with host midshipmen, who took us to breakfast and showed us around the “yard.” At 1100 the 90 cadets who made the trip formed up for a quick practice drill, after which we were granted liberty. All in attendance were anxious for the next day.
Monday arrived early as we boarded buses bound for Alexandria, Virginia. We were going to join a convoy with other enlisted and reserve Coasties and travel to D.C. together. The sight of the black SUVs, sirens blazing, escorting us to D.C. made quite an impression. We all arrived at the Pentagon around noon and went through more screening, before reaching D.C. about 1530 in the afternoon.
We waited anxiously for our turn to march, as various marching details went ahead. Finally our turn came. Marching down the streets of D.C. with all eyes on us gave me a sense of pride and purpose that is hard to explain. And when we marched in front of the President all of the trials of the day seemed to be insignificant. It was a great honor to march before the President, in a parade that symbolizes all our country is known for – freedom, liberty, and equality. Had I not come to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, I doubt I’d ever get that experience.
More about James.