With the inauguration just one week away, a select number of marching bands and groups are making the final touches on their performances for the inaugural parade.
With precision and a lot of practice, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps prepares for one of its most important performances that comes just once every four years.
“For that to be one of my first missions it’s a little overwhelming, but it’s so exciting,” says Spc. Brooke Stevens.
The Corps has served as the official escort to the president in every inaugural parade dating back to 1961 when John F. Kennedy became Commander in Chief. But its tradition started even earlier.
“We have a very special role in each and every inaugural dating back to April 40, 1789 with our very first president,” says Frederick Ellwein, commander and band master.
That tradition is the reason behind the colonial-era uniforms in performances.
“We’re the ones who wear the tricorn hats,” laughs Staff Sgt. Kerrin Kampa.
“Most people wouldn’t recognize them, but the one tune that everybody recognizes is Yankee Doodle,” says Joshua Dukes.
Just days before the inauguration the 70-soldier corps practices its sequences of songs at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, including a special salute to President Obama called a “troop step,” which they do in front of the reviewing stand. They prepare for the big moment when they will dutifully march on, paving the way for the president.