Big role for the military in Obama’s second inauguration festivities

Members of the Army Band stand in front of the Presidential Reviewing Stand in front of the White House during a rehearsal Jan. 13, 2013. Members of the Army Band stand in front of the Presidential Reviewing Stand in front of the White House during a rehearsal Jan. 13, 2013. Charles Dharapak/AP

Plans for Obama’s second inaugural show ceremonial nods to the nation’s civil rights heritage and the growing visibility of Hispanic Americans. But no group will occupy more center-stage at the four-day event than the military.

At a press conference Wednesday, key planners described the special roles that military men and women will play for pageantry, security and their own enjoyment.

For Saturday night’s Kids’ Inaugural Concert at the Washington Convention Center, children of military families have been given half the tickets (the rest go to children of District of Columbia Public Schools). That event follows a National Day of Service on the Mall.

On Sunday, the Constitution's Inauguration Day, on which Obama will be sworn in privately at the White House by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, the First Family will attend a small ceremony for fallen military at Arlington Cemetery.

On Monday, President Obama will publicly take the oath of office, give his address and enjoy a bipartisan luncheon in the Capitol. He will then be greeted by a “pass and review” by Maj. Gen. Michael Liddington, commander of the Joint Task Force for the National Capital Region, along with a 380 troops, according to Army Col. Michelle L. Roberts. An escort of 2,300 military personnel -- including each service’s honor guard -- will accompany the two-to-three hour inaugural parade in the afternoon. They’ve been training for months, along with the Capital Police, the Metropolitan Police, the Secret Service and other public safety agencies.

Parade participants will prepare at the Pentagon, and another cordon of 1,500 service members will follow the route as ushers and assistants. The total 10,000 participants-- including 58 vehicles and floats representing everything from the Virginia Military Institute to the Maine-based Gym Dandy unicyclists—will include divisions led by the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and a combination of Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

On Monday night, one of the two official inaugural balls is the Commander-in-Chief’s Inaugural Ball, hosting primarily military guests and their families. That tradition was started under President George W. Bush.According to Brent Coburn, communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Obama’s 2013 version will be twice the size of previous ones.

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