WASHINGTON – U.S. Air Force 1st. Lt. Zachariah D. Gonyea, a Rochester, N.Y., native, and Niagara University graduate, joined the Joint Task Force - National Capital Region in support of the 57th Presidential Inauguration, which will take place Jan. 21, 2013. The task force is charged with coordinating all military ceremonial support for the inaugural period. As a joint service committee, it includes members from all branches of the armed forces of the United States, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Gonyea was assigned as an aide-de-camp (general’s aide) for the JTF – NCR 57th Presidential Inaugural Support Staff.
“I’m extremely excited to be a part of the 57th Presidential Inauguration,” said Gonyea. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most service members. In 2005, I was part of the crowd for President Bush’s inauguration, so I got to see what it was like from the outside. Now, I have a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes during the inauguration."
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. More than two hundred twenty years later, the participation of the armed forces continues to honor our commander in chief, recognize civilian control of the armed forces and celebrate democracy.
Participation by the armed forces traditionally includes musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen also provide invaluable assistance to the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies.
The secretary of defense has authorized nearly 200 service members to be assigned to JTF-NCR by Inauguration Day to coordinate Department of Defense support in and around the District of Columbia. Historically, as many as 5,000 service members have participated in the celebration, both in view of the public and behind the scenes.
Gonyea’s role in the 57th Presidential Inauguration is like that of any other essential military mission. Just as military men and women show their commitment to this country while deployed around the globe, participation of service members in this traditional event demonstrates our military’s support to the nation’s commander in chief.