ARLINGTON, Va. , Jan. 7, 2005 – A couple of hundred Army and Air National Guard troops will march in the 55th Inaugural Parade. Several hundred more are prepared to help the United States Secret Service screen people attending the festivities. And many more will be standing by, hoping their services will not be needed, when George W. Bush is inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.
Approximately 2,200 Guard members will participate in one way or another in the quadrennial rite of passage that salutes and celebrates this country’s chief executive for the next four years.
Guard members from the District of Columbia and five states – Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts – are expected to take part in some capacity in the inaugural festivities on the 19th and 20th.
“We are ready, willing and able to deter, defend against, and defeat terrorist activities,” said officials about how the Guard is prepared to support the first presidential inauguration – the swearing-in ceremony, the parade, and the balls – since terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11, 2001.
Virginia and West Virginia are prepared to provide 500 screeners if the Secret Service needs that kind of help to handle the hundreds of thousands of people expected to flock to the nation’s capital. The Massachusetts Army Guard is geared up to send a couple of medevac helicopters and crews to Washington, ready to assist the DC Guard.
Security will be tight. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the inauguration as National Special Security Event. The U.S. Secret Service is the lead federal agency, responsible for keeping the president and vice president free from harm. The Guard is primed to support that effort and to help protect the public attending the events.
“The National Guard is actively preparing and training to perform its homeland defense roles by exercising its quick reaction forces and weapons of mass destruction-civil support teams before and during the inauguration period,” a Guard spokesperson explained.
Two National Guard units – one Army, one Air Force – from the District of Columbia will perhaps be the most visible as they march in the inaugural parade from the