An email from a college classmate just jogged my memory. I was in an inaugural parade!
It was in January 1969, and Richard Nixon was about to take office, being elected by promising to end the Vietnam War. I was in my third year at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), and mine was one of six cadet squadrons selected to march. It was quite an honor, especially since it got us out of several days of class.
Vietnam was another divisive time for our nation. We were billeted at Bolling AFB in Washington, DC. We had a bit of free time, but were told not to go to certain areas of the city in uniform because it wasn’t safe because of Vietnam protests. I didn’t go off-base. (It’s amazing how our military has gone in and out of favor throughout history, depending on the circumstances.)
As for the parade itself, troops in battle dress lined the parade route. We were one of the middle squadrons of six and we had a hard time keeping in step because our band was in front and we were equidistant between our band and the band in back (Coast Guard, I think), and they were playing a slightly different cadence. Which band we could hear depended on which way the wind was blowing. The reviewing stand was to our left, so we did an “eyes left” instead of the usual “eyes right” and I did catch a glimpse of Nixon.
My other memory was Mom was so excited she and all her friends were watching for me on TV. Except when USAFA came into view, the network cut away to cover Lyndon Johnson flying out of Andrews Air Force Base back to his home in Texas, and none of us got on camera. I wouldn’t be surprised if they heard Mom screaming all the way to Washington.