D.C. National Guard Plays Historical Role in Presidential Inaugurations

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Deborah Ou-Yang
  • District of Columbia Air National Guard

The District of Columbia National Guard is preparing to provide logistical and ceremonial support to the 59th Presidential Inauguration. The National Guard has a proud history of supporting the event every four years while balancing safety and security.

When George Washington traveled from his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, local militias – the modern-day National Guard – escorted him to the then-capital in New York City. President Abraham Lincoln received his first salute from a D.C. guardsman during his inauguration in 1861.

The National Guard provided support during the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008, which drew one of the largest audiences of any event ever held in Washington. President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration included the support of 7,800 National Guard personnel from the District of Columbia, 43 states and 3 territories.

The D.C. National Guard's support of the inauguration incorporates assistance from Army and Air National Guard units from across the country’s states and territories, with the D.C. National Guard as the lead unit. The National Guard soldiers and airmen are sworn in as special police for the presidential inauguration, a protocol that allows troops to perform their specific duties within the D.C. area.

Guardsmen are tasked with several critical inaugural missions, including crowd management, traffic control, emergency response services and communication and ceremonial duties. For the 2021 presidential inauguration, National Guard airmen and soldiers are performing similar functions.

The National Guard is also prepared and trained to assist civil authorities. Interagency cooperation is crucial for the success of any mission. The D.C. National Guard is coordinating and planning extensively with its partners to ensure a consolidated and effective approach to presidential inauguration preparation and execution. This level of support to civil authorities embodies the National Guard’s mantra of Always Ready, Always There!