The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes and the Citadel Summerall Guards will be among the groups marching in Friday’s inaugural parade, including several cadets from the metro Atlanta area.
“I’m honored to be a part of it,” said John Brunson, an Alpharetta High School graduate who’s now senior at The Citadel and a member of the Summerall Guard. It’ll be his first trip to Washington and he’s also looking forward to some site-seeing on Saturday.
About 150 cadets, along with Col. Tim Smith, director of The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes, and Col. Keith Brace, advisor to The Citadel Summerall Guards, are headed up by bus to Washington for the performance. It’s the seventh time The Citadel has been invited to participate in inaugural festivities, a tradition that began with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1953 inauguration.
The regimental band participated in President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 parade. The Summerall Guard participated in President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 inaugural parade and President George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural parade. Bad weather forced the cancellation of President Ronald Reagan’s 1985 parade.
Friday’s forecast isn’t the greatest – rain and highs in the 40s – but nothing like the 7-degree chill that forced event organizers to move Reagan’s second swearing-in to the Capitol Rotunda.
We talked with three metro Atlanta cadets ahead of Friday’s event, and they’re excited to represent the hometowns as well as their school.
Citadel junior Jared Turnage, who graduated from Marietta’s Wheeler High School, saluted his high school alma mater’s Junior ROTC program, which he credits with preparing him for The Citadel.
“It’s really amazing to be able to represent our school on a national and international level,” said Turnage, who plays bass drum in the regimental band.
Among the supporters cheering on the cadets will be one of their own: Nancy Mace, who was the first female graduate of The Citadel. She also was involved in the campaign, serving as President-elect Donald Trump’s South Carolina Coalitions Director.
“I’ve loved every minute of the school,” Brunson said. “Hopefully we can make her proud.”
The Summerall Guard is a silent precision drill platoon that was formed at The Citadel 85 years ago. The platoon’s purpose is to exemplify, through a unique series of movements based on the old close order drill, the exactness and thoroughness with which a cadet at The Citadel is trained, the school explained in a statement.
The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes is internationally renowned, having been invited to the exclusive Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2015, 2010 and 1991.
Matthew Bartolomei, a freshman from Hiram who graduated from Paulding County High School, plays alto sax and looks forward to playing on Friday.
“It’s a good chance for the rest of the nation to see what The Citadel is made of,” he said.
Metro Atlanta cadets headed to DC also include Grayson Cooper from Suwanee, Charles Hall from Fayetteville, John Hiles from Atlanta, Paul Klosinski from Augusta and Devon Willis from Sandy Springs.