Army Reserve Soldiers march in Presidential Inaugural Parade
January 23, 2013
WASHINGTON D.C. (Jan. 22, 2013) -- People from around the world turned on their television sets to watch the 57th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 21, but maybe none were more excited than a few people in Ukraine waiting for that special moment during the Presidential Inaugural Parade when they would catch a glimpse of their loved one.
Matthew Volpe, a specialist with the 312th Psychological Operations Company in Upper Marlboro, Md., moved to America in 2003 with his parents from Kiev, Ukraine, and then enlisted in the Army Reserve four years later. Two months ago Volpe was one of 90 Soldiers chosen by senior leaders of 11 major subordinate commands in the United States Army Reserve to represent more than 205,000 warrior citizens from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories.
With his heavy Ukrainian accent, Volpe said to be given the opportunity to march in the historic parade was a dream.
"If you told me ten years ago when I lived in the Ukraine that I would be here marching for the President of the United States of America, I would have laughed," he said. "Today, it makes me more proud that I am a citizen of this country and a member of the Army Reserve."
As the announcer introduced the 200th Military Police Command-led Army Reserve element, they began marching through the cheering crowd of tens of thousands of people watching from the sidewalks, rooftops and other locations.
Led by Lt. Col. James Williams, 90 soldiers from 11 major subordinate commands of the United States Army Reserve Command marched down Pennsylvania Avenue as part of the first parade element. Besides the Army Reserve, the first element included Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, United States Military Academy and the National Guard, as well as high school and college bands.
"What better place could anyone be than here," said Sgt. 1st Class Lachrisha Parker, a United States Army Joint and Special Troops Support Command Soldier from Fort Wayne, Ind. "Today, I am so proud to be a member of the Army Reserve. I volunteered to join the Army Reserve and today, after more than 22 years of proud service to my country, I was able to march on Pennsylvania Avenue in support of our commander in chief."
Before the Army Reserve Soldiers stepped onto the parade route, Volpe mentioned he only attends a community college, but Parker quickly interrupted the young Soldier in mid sentence.
"Stand proud that you are going to college," she told him. "You have done more in your life than most people your age. It doesn't matter if you are going to a community college or a university, you are going to college and making yourself a better citizen of this country."
The 200th Military Police Command took the helm of the mission to bring Soldiers from numerous commands to its home at Fort Meade, Md., and transformed them into a cohesive marching element. The Army Reserve element was led in the parade by the large double-eagle flag, a symbol of more than 200,000 Reserve Soldiers and their families from all U.S. territories and the 50 states.
The pride taken in the symbol was evident in the care of the double-eagle flag by Master Sgt. Robert Wood, an operations sergeant with the 200th MPCOM.
"We are all proud of who we are and what we represent," Wood said. "I take personal pride in caring for the double eagle, which represents all those who have sacrificed their time, for their loved ones who have also made sacrifices, and for those Army Reserve Soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice."
Wood said he used his personal steamer to ensure there were no wrinkles and the flag would be raised high for all to see.
"We are the Army Reserve, and we represent not only the Soldiers within our formations, but our families and communities who support each one of us," he said.
After months of coordinating the movement of Soldiers, uniform inspections, paperwork and countless hours of drill and ceremony, the warrior citizens marched with visible pride as the double eagle was held above the formation to announce the coming of the Army Reserve Soldiers.
"You are representing every Army Reserve Soldier across our nation and each of you will be a part of history that you will remember 20 years from now," Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of the Army Reserve and 7th commanding general for the U.S. Army Reserve Command, said to the participating Soldiers during a rehearsal conducted at Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 20.
"You have spent some very long days leading up to this monumental event," Talley said. "Your families have made many sacrifices. My wife and I are very proud of each one of you, and we will stand proud and salute you for your service to our country and the Army Reserve."