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By Brad Rhen
Over 1,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members were activated recently to support the District of Columbia National Guard and local civilian authorities through the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.
The Pa. Guard members began deploying on Jan. 7 and joined a National Guard force in Washington that is expected to exceed 10,000 by the date of the inauguration.
“The unprecedented and disturbing events (Jan. 6) in our nation’s capital are cause for ongoing concern and Pennsylvania is prepared to assist as needed in securing peace and an orderly transfer of power on January 20,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a news release. “Our National Guard members will assist the D.C. National Guard and local civilian authorities as they work to keep the area surrounding the Capitol and other locations secure in the coming days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.”
Military support to inaugurations by Guard members dates back 232 years to when Gen. George Washington began his inaugural journey from Mount Vernon, Va., to New York City. Local militias -- the modern-day National Guard -- joined his inaugural procession as it passed through towns along the route to be joined by members of the regular Army, additional local militia and Revolutionary War veterans once Washington arrived in New York City.
This presidential military escort then accompanied him to Federal Hall for the presidential oath. The National Guard and other military units have continued this tradition of inaugural support ever since.
The Pennsylvania National Guard has provided support for every presidential inauguration since at least 2005, and many of the Soldiers and Airmen who deployed to Washington were already planning to go there to support the inauguration on Jan. 20.
“Pennsylvania Guard members are well-trained and well-prepared to assist our communities, commonwealth and country in any way they can,” said acting adjutant general Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler. “We are also very fortunate that our Guard members have extensive experience working alongside the D.C. National Guard as part of past training events and presidential inaugurations.”
National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from across the states and territories will augment the District of Columbia National Guard to provide crowd management; traffic control in and around the Capitol, National Mall and White House; as well as communications, logistical, medical and public affairs support.
"We greatly appreciate the support from the entire National Guard team across the region to respond to law enforcement officers who needed help, and we are proud of our Guard members who supported the lead agencies in this mission," Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said in a news release.