Anthony Atwood’s Inauguration Journal – Day 14
THURSDAY 15 – JAN09: Today we run more radio checks on the mall. In just one week it has been transformed. Legions of folding chairs set up in ranks in front of the Capitol building. MSNBC setups, trailers with cable feeds the size of elephant trunks running in and out, pressure cleaning on some building cornices, traffic detours, and the red, white, and blue. The day is cold; puddles of water have iced over.
There is a briefing for all hands in the Voice of America theater. I bump into the only other Navy guy from Miami I’ve seen so far, a Petty Officer First Class from the Reserve Center in Hialeah. The briefing is more information about the big picture: The Inaugural Period begins January 17th with preliminary events. The main event, the swearing in of the new president will occur on the capitol steps with first the Vice President, and then the President taking the oath of office, timed to finish exactly at noon, as per the Constitution. There is then a luncheon in the Capitol, following which the new President will take to the reviewing stand near the White House.
The parade is set for the next three hours and includes about 12,500 people. A couple thousand are military bands, color guards, honor guards and marching units from each branch of service, including the Merchant Marine. The vast majority are civilians units; everyone from bagpipers to Mickey Rooney, to the Shoshone Nation, to Taravella High School. Included are 10 floats and 250 horses. Near the White House, the military units will pass before the president, who is also our Commander in Chief, and he will take the review.
That evening there will be Inaugural Balls all over town. There are ten “official” balls, but the whole number is closer to sixty.
The following morning there is the National Prayer Service at church. The Inaugural Period was supposed to run to January 24th, but President-elect Obama has indicated he wants to start work right after church, so that is the final official event.
One of my two assignments is to assist at the Pentagon where the parade groups will assemble on I-Day. On account of this location I will miss seeing the activity on the Mall. It is a small price to pay, and I will give a shout-out to the Taravella High School bus when they arrive. They are in Division Six, towards the end of the parade. My taskings will necessitate a couple of very long days.