David A. Bryant

Parades are exciting. And when some of your own are out there representing you, it’s even more exciting.

As our very own 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment will proudly represent Fort Hood and its surrounding communities Friday in the inaugural parade of President-elect Donald Trump, I’m certainly looking forward to watching them cross the world stage while I shout, “I know them,” to my long-suffering wife.

The military has a long tradition of participating in inaugural parades for our nation’s commanders in chief. It began with a militia and Continental Army escort of George Washington to his swearing-in ceremony April 30, 1789, in New York City.

Since then, all presidents have had military participation in their inaugural parades, representing the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guard members who are the very essence of the nation’s freedom.

Some interesting facts I learned by visiting www.inaugural.senate.gov were that the first parade actually in the new capital of Washington, D.C., occurred at Thomas Jefferson’s first inauguration in 1801. The Capitol building wasn’t even complete yet.

The first formal inaugural parade was in 1809 for James Madison. The first time African-Americans marched in the inaugural parade was in 1865, for Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration. Four companies of African-American troops marched for Lincoln.

In 1909, Helen Taft became the first First Lady to accompany her husband, William Taft, in the parade. At Woodrow Wilson’s second inauguration in 1917, women officially became a part of the procession.

Warren Harding would become the first president elect to ride in an automobile during the parade in 1921. Harry Truman would have the first televised parade in 1949 and in 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower would have a parade so large filled with bands, elephants and military vehicles it lasted for more than 4½ hours.

Only one inaugural parade has ever been canceled due to weather so bad it caused a safety concern, and that was in 1985 for Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration.

Our First Team horse detachment participated in Reagan’s first inauguration in 1981, the first time they would represent the Greater Fort Hood Area at a presidential event.

Regardless of who is elected as our commander in chief, the men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces have been there to lead them to their swearing in. They march in the parade to honor the new boss and make sure he — and perhaps, one day, she — arrives safely to take the highest position defending the U.S. Constitution.

But this year, I’m looking forward to hollering at my TV when the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment rides on by. Good luck out there, troopers!

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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