President Donald J. Trump reviewed units representing all of the armed forces shortly after taking command of America’s military from former president Barack Obama on Friday.
Trump stood on the center stairs of the Capitol’s east side, which faces the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, with First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Michael R. Pence, his wife Karen, and Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, the commanding general of the Military District of Washington. The MDW has been augmented by more than 5,000 service members from both the active-duty and reserve components to form Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, which Becker also commands.
In addition to providing marchers and musicians for the parade, the task force also supplied security, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons.
“The service members participating that day represent the two million service members serving around the world,” the general said.
“It is a privilege to lead the men and women of our armed forces during such a historic moment in our nation’s history as we will render honors to our new commander in chief and reaffirm our support for the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution,” he said.
The 20-minute ceremony follows the age-old tradition of a new commander reviewing or inspecting his troops, so as to communicate to the ranks that he is now the man in charge–as well as reinforcing the civilian control of the military.
The Pass in Review was led by the senior officers for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. The Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, but has always been a military organization dating back to its roots as the Treasury Department’s Revenue Marine.
The senior officers were: Army Maj. Gen. Laura Richardson; Chief, Office of the Congressional Legislative Liaison; Marine Maj. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow, Commander Marine Corps Installations Command; Navy Rear Adm. Gene F. Price, Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet; Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl Burke, Commander Air Force District of Washington and Coast
Guard Rear Adm. James Rendon, Superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy.
The pass in review is a longstanding American military tradition dating back to when Baron Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge and reported to General George Washington during the American Revolution in 1778. Von Steuben’s training technique was to create a “model company,” and one of the ways he did this was through drill and ceremony, which is still being used to this day and is an important part of the Presidential Inauguration. These model companies represented their source units and were drilled to a high level of proficiency as an example to the rest of the formation.
Following the review, Becker escorted the Trumps to their car, and after the first couple left for their reviewing stand in front of the White House, the general joined the other general and flag officers, leading them and the rest of the units from the review as the first elements of the Presidential Inaugural Parade as they executed a “column left” off of the Capitol’s East Plaza onto Constitution Avenue and then on to Pennsylvania Avenue and the rest of the parade’s route.
During Friday’s rehearsals, military personnel practiced at the Capitol with service members in civilian clothes playing the incoming first and second couples.
Specialist Sara Corry, a staff arranger and harpist with the Army’s Pershing’s Own marching band, said she was thrilled to stand in for the first lady.
“I was very excited to be a part of this tradition,” she said. “This has been going on for over 200 years–the military’s been helping out with the inauguration–and I am very, very honored to be doing this.”
Becker said when President-elect George Washington arrived at Federal Hall in New York City for his first inauguration in 1789, he was escorted by an honor guard of soldiers, beginning the tradition in America of having the military in the center of the inauguration events.