I know I mention my job from time to time, usually in vague terms, and sometimes it’s more awesome than other times and while the days leading up the 57th Presidential Inauguration were some of the most exhausting days I’ve experienced this decade, it’s also a really cool thing to have been in D.C., albeit working, for the past two presidential inaugurations.
My job, in case I haven’t been too clear about it, is that of a journalist for the Virginia National Guard. I work full-time for the Guard, in uniform. It’s pretty much the best job in the Army, at least as far as I’m concerned.
For the last inauguration, Virginia Guard Soldiers helped out at security checkpoints along the parade route, which was neat, because we were able to watch the presidential limo go by, carrying both the President and the First Lady. This year was a little bit different. Our Soldiers were tasked with manning traffic control points in D.C., along the soft perimeter around the parade route. Myself and a handful of other public affairs professionals were tasked with covering those Soldiers as they manned the traffic control points and we loaded five of us, along with all our camera gear and cots and snacks and bullshit comfort items, into the mini-van from hell. It was An Adventure.
5 REASONS WHY WORKING THE INAUGURATION DIDN’T SUCK
1. Waking up at 2am Inauguration Day. Okay. That’s a lie. Waking up at 2am DID SUCK, but the neat thing about being out and about on the streets of our nation’s capital in the late night/early morning hours is that you’re likely to see some crazy, crazy things. We were on the streets just before 4am and at 4am the crazies and the drunks are still out in full force and a handful of Soldiers were even propositioned by some ladies of night and their “manager.”
2. The energy. Last time was more intense, but I could still feel it this time around. There’s just this crazy excitement swirling through the streets on Inauguration Day, this feeling of pride and satisfaction and happiness and awesomeness that’s absolutely infectious. It’s in the souvenir vendor’s heckles and in the faces of each person walking by sporting paraphernalia depicting a president they helped to elect.
3. Bragging rights. It’s a really cool thing to be able to say I was there for Obama’s first inauguration and it’s made almost doubly cool to be able to say I was there for BOTH, even if by “there” I mean in D.C., working.
4. Soldiers. I really like Soldiers. Sometimes I forget, when I don’t work with them too closely for a while, but when I get the chance to go out and chat with young Soldiers, I’m reminded of how much I really, really like them. Soldiers are hilarious and generally good natured and motivated and competent, and spending time with them is one of the best parts of my job.
5. My photos, everywhere. When you’re a military journalist, you don’t own your photos, the world does, and so, when you manage to get content uploaded by 7:30am on Inauguration Day, your photos go across the lands and it is a beautiful and wonderful thing. BBC used a few of my photos, as did a bunch of local D.C. and Virginia news stations and that mostly just makes me feel like a rock star.
All photos by me, courtesy the Virginia Guard Public Affairs Office.