MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia --
On Jan. 20, Master Sgt. Alex Barros will be in a unique position. As a member of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, assembled to support the 58th Presidential Inauguration, Barros will be one of the first people to see the president-elect enter the White House for the first time as president of the United States.
“The inauguration of the most powerful man in the world only happens every four years, and to be part of it—to be part of history—is really a privilege,” Barros said.
Barros is a project officer in Marine Corps Systems Command’s Expeditionary Power Systems, and was selected to serve as White House activities officer for the JTF in October. He is one of more than 800 members from across the military services responsible for ensuring Inauguration Day events go smoothly.
As activities officer, Barros is part of a two-person team that works for the White House Ceremonies and Special Events Office. Most of their work will take place behind the scenes, coordinating the joint color guard and musical units, as well as the 40-member cordon that will render honors to the new president as he heads to the reviewing stand. Barros’ team will also ensure all the ceremonial troops have transportation, food and anything else they need on Inauguration Day.
“We’ll be in the background with radios, coordinating movements, but we’ll be there,” Barros said. “My day will start at 5 a.m., and we won’t shut down until the parade is over that evening.”
Leading up to the big day, Barros said there are numerous meetings to ensure all the teams—from those in charge of the swearing-in ceremony in the morning to the parade that afternoon—are on the same page and the transition is seamless. The teams also run drills and simulations, which will culminate in a large, all-hands rehearsal days before the inauguration.
According to a JTF-NCR press release, the U.S. Armed Forces have participated in the inauguration of the president of the United States since April 30, 1789, when members of the U.S. Army, local militia units and Revolutionary War veterans escorted George Washington to his first inauguration ceremony at Federal Hall in New York City.
Armed Forces participation traditionally includes musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons. Military members like Barros also provide assistance to the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies.
On Inauguration Day, more than 5,000 service members will participate in the 58th Presidential Inauguration ceremonies and other events.
“When plans work out well, that’s the benefit of all the hard work we’re doing,” Barros said. “Our goal is for everything to go as planned without any incidents. If we can do that—if we can assist in that—then our mission is accomplished.”