The D.C. National Guard plays a significant and special role in Presidential Inaugurations, a tradition starting in the earliest days of our nation. The National Guard has been present at every Presidential Inauguration, starting with an honor detail which rode with President Washington in recognition of his time as Virginia’s militia commander.
The D.C. Guard’s participation in inaugurations may be that old, but certainly takes form in 1860. The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 triggered several southern states to secede from the Union. There was no secret service at the time, but Lieutenant General Winfield Scott ordered the D.C. Militia to protect the president-elect from harm. The D.C. Militia guarded the parade route, sappers preceded the president-elect, and cavalry rode alongside him, bucking their horses to make it difficult for snipers to get a lock.
The new President Lincoln gave his first
salute to a D.C. Guardsman and an unbroken
tradition of inaugural service was born.
The National Guard can be deputized as special police, a role that active duty military cannot. That makes the National Guard an important element in large-scale missions such as inaugurations. In 2009, the D.C. National Guard led a group of over ten thousand National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to support the largest inauguration, President Obama's, in history. The D.C. National Guard's role has evolved to include providing crowd control, security control, traffic control, civil support, cyber security and ceremonial marching elements for the event. The D.C. National Guard's support of the inauguration has also incorporated the assistance of both Army and Air National Guard units from across the states and territories, with the D.C. National Guard as the lead unit. This was evident during the 58th Inauguration which included the support of 7800 National Guard personnel from the District of Columbia, 43 states and 3 territories. Additionally, the D.C. National Guard provides stand-by support for State of the Union Addresses and other events for the executive, legislative and judicial government branches.
INAUGURATIONS HOSTED BY THE D.C. NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY
Truman and First lady entering the President Eisenhower, First Lady and guests - 1953
National Guard Armory - 1949
Kennedy and First Lady in The lights and crowd at President Kennedy’s Inauguration - 1961
the Presidential Box - 1961
Secret service agents contain a crowd of 28,000 as President Johnson President and First Lady Reagan dance - 1985
dances with the First lady at the DC National Guard Armory - 1965
President Obama and First lady greet the crowd - 2013 President Obama and First lady holding hands - 2013
View more in the gallery (currently under construction)
We are the Capital Guardians: Always Ready, Always Relevant!