Participation in the non-political presidential inauguration parade is traditionally seen as a huge honor. Getting in requires an application long before the election even occurs. The parade marches down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol Building to the White House, and is one of the last events in the day — after all other processions, the swearing in and a luncheon, but before the evening’s inaugural balls.
It’s no secret that this presidential season has been a contentious one, with very strong feelings all sides about President-Elect Donald Trump. So it’s also not a surprise that there are some very strong opinions about whether or not non-partisan groups, like military-affiliated organizations, should participate in his inaugural parade.
Still, the incoming president will be the new commander-in-chief, so many believe it makes for military-affiliated organizations to participate in the parade. In fact, over 10 military-affiliated groups or units will be participating.
Representing military families specifically will be two organizations — Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and Kids Overseas, a group of 20 eighth-graders whose parents are stationed at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sigonella, Italy, according to this story in The Hill.
The Kids Overseas program, The Hill reports, has participated in one past inaugural celebration, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the Kids Inaugural Concert.
TAPS is participating in the inaugural parade for the first time, founder Bonnie Carroll told me, but have regularly marched in D.C.’s Memorial Day parade, she said.
“We applied to participate last year, long before the election,” she said in an email. “[We] will have [about] 200 surviving family members including widows, parents, children, siblings and battle buddies walking to honor all our heroes. … We have families coming from across the country, out of the hundreds who applied to participate, including a van with a dozen Gold Star parents driving from Iowa together.”
Carroll stressed that their inclusion in the parade is not a political statement.
“Our participants aren’t viewing this parade as political — it’s not a campaign event — this is an historic event that has happened in America since 1789,” she said.