HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS, WASHINGTON, DC -- The Marine Corps has been closely associated with the president since Thomas Jefferson dubbed the Marine Band "The President's Own," and on Jan. 20, the Marine Corps did its part to usher in the nation's 43rd president, George W. Bush.
Joining nearly 11,000 participants, representatives of the Marine Corps marched through the heart of Washington, D.C. in the parade celebrating the 54th presidential inauguration.
After President Bush took the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol, he proceeded in a limousine down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. His entourage of escorts included a platoon from Company B, Marine Corps Barracks, Washington, D.C.
Once President Bush was situated in his reviewing stand, the main body of the parade passed in review.
The U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard, officers representing the Marine Corps staff, a contingent of Marine reservists, and the U.S. Marine Band were among those marching before the new commander in chief. The Marine Band has participated in every Presidential Inauguration from the administration of President Jefferson to the present.
Despite cold, gray weather and intermittent drizzling, more than 100,000 spectators lined the 1.9-mile parade route to watch the quadrennial event.
While the crowd kept its eyes on the marchers, floats, horses, and miscellaneous vehicles that made up the parade, a lot of work went on behind the scenes.
Amazingly, some preparations for the inauguration weekend began a year in advance. To handle security and other issues associated with the weekend of ceremonies, the armed forces and law enforcement organizations needed a Joint Operations Center to maintain communication.
Master Sgt. Javier Rodarte, J-3 plans and operations, helped coordinate the establishment and operation of the center, which linked personnel throughout downtown Washington.
The job was a lot of work, but Master Sgt. Rodarte said it was special to be a key participant in such a major event. "It's one of those billets that's once in a lifetime," he said.
Sergeant Daniel Contrerasgastelum, headquarters Marine Corps, helped on the communication network since March, and said it was interesting to be on a joint team and work with members of the other services.
"I've made friends," he said. "They have offered me some training I probably would never get."
Like Master Sgt. Rodarte, Sgt. Contrerasgastelum said it was meaningful to have a hand in such a significant occasion. "I'm very proud to be a part of it."