WASHINGTON, D.C. - It was not only Martin Luther King, Jr. Day but also Inauguration Day early Monday morning as the Regiment of Midshipmen gathered together in the crisp January air and boarded buses bound for Washington, D.C. There was much excitement, as the anticipation from weeks of training and preparing to march in the Inauguration Parade built up to this one day.
"The midshipmen did an outstanding job representing the entire regiment in this year's Inauguration Parade. We have received many compliments from around the world regarding their skill and military bearing while in Washington D.C.," said Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., superintendent. "It was an honor for the Academy to participate."
After leaving the Academy, it was just a few hours' time before the regiment would step off the bus, and again become a part of history, as the midshipmen marched through the streets of the nation's capital in the Inaugural Parade for the second inauguration of President Obama. It was a long, chilly day in Washington D.C., with several hours waiting for the parade kick-off. But this did not hinder the excitement of the midshipmen from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
'I Felt So Honored'
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity of marching in front of the President of the United States in a historic inaugural parade. The Regimental Band, the Honor Guard, the Color Guard, and a marching contingent travelled down understanding the honor of being a part of history in the making.
"I felt so honored to march in the Inaugural Parade. Let's be realistic, how many people can say that they marched in the Inaugural Parade? I am so proud of the participants. We practiced, we worked hard, and we did the Academy justice. It was (delete a) phenomenal. It was an experience that I will never forget," said Midshipman Janay Weathers, regimental executive officer, First Class.
Leading the Regiment of Midshipmen in the parade was the Honor Guard, commanded by Midshipman Daniel Dunn, First Class.
"It was a great experience for the Honor Guard. It was strange to be at the very front of the regiment trying to keep in marching form with the U.S. Coast Guard ahead of us. When approaching the review stand, I spotted the Secretary of Transportation who we all knew from the Academy. It was cool to hear the Kings Point alumni cheer us on every half mile or so," said midshipman Daniel Dunn, regimental honor guard commander, First Class.
Not An Easy Road
The road to this parade however, was not quite as easy as one might think. There were many mornings of marching practice, musters, and more, all leading up to the all-too-fast three minutes of marching past the President and rendering Honors.
"I will remember it with pride because despite all the extra preparation and training. Every single midshipman pulled together and performed with excellence and represented the United States Merchant Marine Academy in a very strong and resounding way," said midshipman John Gaffigan, regimental band master, First Class. As midshipman Frank Osborne, regimental color guard, recalled the parade, "This was actually my second parade and let me tell you it was a lot nicer. Last time the temperature was at the least 20 degrees colder so it was a big change for this inauguration."
Despite the stresses leading up to the parade and the cold temperatures, midshipmen will forever remember the event fondly: "The inaugural parade experience was amazing. The marching contingent as a whole put in a lot of time and effort during practices and it showed in their performance in front of the President. I am very impressed with how the band performed; it couldn't have been done without them. Everyone did their job and represented the Academy well," said Midshipmen Daniel Galginaitis, regimental commander, First class.
- Reported by Midshipmen Brittany Bergmann, regimental public affairs officer, First Class