Building upon past honors, a Germantown Boy Scout Troop will once again march in the inaugural parade for President Barack Obama.
Early on Monday, the members of Boy Scout Troop 358 will depart from Grace Baptist Church for Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. and their positions in the 2013 presidential inaugural parade.
Thirty-four young men from Germantown or Mt. Airy, between 11 and 18 years old, will participate in the event, the second time in their 60-year history that the troop has been afforded the unique privilege.
In 2009, Troop 358 marched in President Obama’s first inaugural parade.
When asked if the novelty of marching in the parade wears off the second time around, Troop 358 Chairman Charles Whiting was insistent: “No, no, no, no, no.”
“The second time is truly the charm,” observed Whiting, who has spent 32 years with this troop. “You know what mistakes you made, and try to do it better.”
Rehearsal in Germantown
As the scouts practiced their formations and their salutes Wednesday night at Grace Baptist, Whiting said that many of aspects of the application process were the same this time as it had been in the past.
After a November deadline for the written application, notification came shortly after Thanksgiving, sparking numerous preparations in order to ensure that his scouts are present, accounted for and prepared to march in the roughly mile-long parade route.
In addition, significant fundraising efforts were undertaken to secure transportation, food and red winter jackets for the young men.
Whiting, a Mt. Airy-native who now resides in Willow Grove, said that security this year has been enhanced, with passport-style photographs now being required of each participant.
Despite all the work that such an event entails, Whiting said that he is honored to participate in a “moment in history.”
“Most importantly, it was a man who looked like me, and had the same humble beginnings I had,” said Whiting. “It’s something the boys can emulate: That one day, I can become president.”
Scouts discuss the honor
Participating for the second time in the inauguration parade is Scoutmaster Brian Wallace, who has been with a leader with Troop 358 since 2003, taking over his family’s tradition of scout leadership.
“Being a part of President Obama’s inaugural means a lot for our boys,” said Wallace, a lifetime Mt. Airy resident.
Speaking to some of the first-time participants, enthusiasm was evident among the younger Boy Scouts, despite a rigorous, two-hour long meeting in preparation for their journey next week.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Lavelle Clark, an 11-year-old scout. “It will be my first time seeing the President – I’m a fan.”
Jordan Gill-Rice, 12, echoed Clark’s expectations about to coming face-to-face with the president. Nevertheless, he’s still all about business.
Asked what he’ll be thinking when parading down Pennsylvania Avenue, Jordan said, “I’m just going to try to keep marching.”
Jordan’s mother, Vanessa Brown, related an interesting impact of participating in the inaugural. She said that the possibility of being in the parade got her son actively engaged in the 2012 elections, a sentiment that soon became contagious in her household.
“He got me excited about the elections,” said Brown, noting that her son was attuned to last year’s presidential campaign. “I don’t remember thinking about politics when I was 12.”