Reserve Soldiers march in inaugural parade, cherish memorable experience
January 25, 2013
WASHINGTON (Jan. 25, 2013) -- When Staff Sgt. Wilnessial Kingdom executed an eyes left and saw the president of the United States during the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade, the 80th Training Command's executive administrative assistant said instantly her eyes filled with tears.
She said being within 100 feet of the reviewing party, along with the historical significance of the event which coincided with the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. overwhelmed her.
"I was witnessing some of the things that Doctor King talked about on the day that was set aside to honor him," said Kingdom, who celebrated her 35th birthday two days before the event. "I was witnessing the dream."
Kingdom and four other Soldiers from the 80th Training Command's headquarters company were among 90 citizen-Soldiers who represented the United States Army Reserve Command in a formation made up of 11 major subordinate commands during the parade, Jan. 21, 2013.
Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Bueno, the physical security noncommissioned officer of the 80th Training Command's Provost Marshall Office, said the glitz and glamor of the parade generated a level of intensity that brought out the best in him as a Soldier.
"Your head and eyes are forward, but you see the flashes, and you hear the cameras clicking, and you hear people screaming out, 'United States Army,' people calling out, 'USARC,' I wanted to smile, but I felt like it would be unprofessional," said Bueno. "My head was up, my shoulders were back and my chest was out because I was proud of what I was doing."
Even after three months of training, the Soldiers spent most of the previous day marching through the streets of Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall, Va., in preparation for the parade.
"When I tell you we spent hours marching I'm not exaggerating," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Monique Perkins, a human resource officer at the 80th Training Command headquarters. "We were the only element representing the Army Reserve, so after all of our practice we wanted to look sharp in front of the president."
On the day of the parade, the Soldiers woke up at 1:30 a.m. before heading to the starting point. They spent nearly eight hours in a giant, Oktoberfest-styled tent with other military units and civilian organizations waiting on the 3 p.m. start time. They watched on an oversized video monitor as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden each took their oath of office.
The parade route extended 15 blocks down Pennsylvania Ave., and even in 40-degree weather 1st Lt. Benson Rutledge, a budget analyst with the 80th Training Command, said he couldn't help noticing the admiration that some of the kids showed for the military.
"They all stood a little straighter when we walked by, you could see it in their eyes," said Benson, a father of three. "I hope we represented our profession well and inspired the next generation."
Later that night, the Soldiers attended the Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball, where they were close enough to photograph the first couple dancing, followed by the vice president and his wife.
"This was my first military ball and the president and the vice president showed up," said Rutledge.
They also interacted with other military members to include the two service members who danced with President Obama and the first lady.
"At the end of the day it was all worth it," said Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Lamb, referring to the months of preparation that went into the day's events. "To actually be a part of something that was historical is something you can tell your grandkids."