By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
The Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard received a new commander-in-chief on Jan. 14 when Timothy M. Kaine was sworn in as Virginia’s 70th governor during a historic day of inaugural events in Colonial Williamsburg.
It was the first gubernatorial inauguration in Williamsburg in 227 years and, despite the cold, wet weather, the day’s festivities went off without a hitch. That was thanks in large part to the hard work of more than 200 Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force Soldiers who pitched in to help organize and carry out the event.
At around 10 a.m., thousands of citizens from around the state began arriving for the opportunity to witness the inaugural ceremony and accompanying festivities. But by that time, Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Defense Force Soldiers had already been at work for several hours.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery and VDF set up tents for law enforcement and security personnel and served as parade controllers for the 4,600 parade participants. As marching bands and community groups from around the state descended on the site, it was up to these Soldiers to make sure the groups were accounted for and in the right order before the parade began.
Guests with tickets for the inauguration had an opportunity to interact face to face with Virginia Guard troops. Twenty Soldiers from Joint Force Headquarters were on hand to greet them on their arrival, hand out programs and answer any of their questions.
While the guests waited in the stands for the ceremony to begin, they were treated to a musical performance from the 29th Army Band.
At noon, following speeches by re-enactors portraying Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, the last two governors to be sworn-in in Williamsburg, the inaugural ceremony began. In front of a crowd that included the joint assembly and Brig. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the new adjutant general, Virginia’s new governor was sworn into office.
“To those who protect us,” Kaine said in his inaugural address, “our Guardsmen, law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMT’s, I pledge an administration that will work to ensure you have the resources and the moral support you need to keep our families and our neighborhoods safe. The work you do is dangerous and essential and we salute your dedication.”
After his speech and the adjournment of the joint assembly, the inaugural parade, led by a Virginia National Guard color guard, traveled through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg. The color guard featured the organizational colors of all the major subordinate commands within Virginia Army and Air National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force.
“The Soldiers performed superbly,” said Master Sgt. Ronald Posey, noncommissioned officer in charge of the event. “There’s no way it would have been the success it was without their hard work and support.”