As more than 25,000 National Guardsmen from across the United States provided safety and support of the 59th Presidential Inauguration for Congressional leaders and observers in the Washington, D.C., area, Maj. Angela Cronan, 113th Medical Group, D.C. Air National Guard, was at the D.C. Armory providing medical support to Guardsmen in need. As this was her fifth time supporting the Inaugural events, she was a veteran to the events unfolding that day.
However, this Inauguration was unlike any other.
About two months prior, Cronan's world turned upside down when her husband of nearly 20 years passed away suddenly, leaving Cronan a widow and her two daughters, Abby (17) and Ally (13), without their father.
"He was always so proud of me and did everything to prepare me for this [Inauguration] day," said Cronan. "Then the unthinkable happened and my entire life completely shattered."
Last summer, Cronan was asked to lead the Inaugural parade and, without hesitation, responded with an enthusiastic "YES"! Her husband Chris would help her prepare her uniform to ensure she was looking sharp for the big day.
After her husband's passing, her 113th Medical Group commander, Col. Michael Pollock, told her she was under no obligation to participate and it would be perfectly understandable if she were to bow out.
However, Cronan didn't bow out. In fact, she decided that day she would not waste what she had built with Chris. In her mind, it was best to continue forward and to honor Chris' spirit and make her family proud.
"Her response to me was she wanted to participate and continue with her duties as the parade Officer-in-Charge and to giver her daughters a show of strength. There is no task too big or small for her and it just amazed me what she was able to do under the circumstance," said Pollock.
As a former Marine, Cronan understood the value of commitment and knew that Chris, who retired from the 113th Wing as an avionics specialist with deployments to Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, would want her to stay the course. She was proud to represent the unit on behalf of herself and Chris.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade element was cancelled. Undeterred, Cronan knew she still had a job to do. She was a nurse after all, and with thousands of troops deployed to D.C. and a pandemic raging all around, it was her responsibility to ensure the health and welfare of many Soldiers and Airmen that historic day. She also felt Chris' presence and was sure he would be there, alongside her in spirit.
"I was proud to serve alongside my fellow medical team on Inauguration Day. We did it, honey! We did it."