U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps rehearsing at Fort Myer (photo provided by: SSG Alexander Borisov)
FORT MYER, Virginia (WUSA)--We are 37 days away from the Presidential Inaugural Parade. And thousands of groups are sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear if they've been selected to perform in the parade. But the U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps knows they will be.
Fifty-nine people strong, fifers, buglers and drummers, they have performed for every Presidential Inauguration since John F. Kennedy's in 1961.
"The mission for the Inauguration is pretty simple. We are part of the honor guard for the President," says Master Sgt. William White, the Fife and Drum Corps' Senior Drum Major. "After the swearing in ceremony, after the lunch at the Capitol, is of course the parade. And the military honor guard passes in review before the newly sworn in President and then we escort the President from the Capitol to the White House where he watches the rest of the parade."
MORE: Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps
These soldier-musicians have been preparing for January's Inaugural Parade since October. This will be Staff Sgt. Kerrin Kampa's first time in the Inaugural Parade. She plays the fife.
"I actually had to audition twice. And I got the position my second try," says Kerrin. "I really wanted a career in music that was sustainable and meaningful and that I get to be a musical ambassador of the Army and the United States."
This will be Sgt. 1st Class Donald Paul Francisco's sixth and final Inaugural Parade. He is retiring.
"I didn't know too much about the Fife and Drum Corps. I'm from the south. And I'm a jazz-flute player actually," says Francisco. "I'm like a fife? That's different. I really want to learn that. And it has been an amazing journey."
2,400 groups from across the United States and the territories have applied to be in January's parade. First they have to be selected by the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). Everyone is mum on when that announcement will be made, but in past Inaugurations it has happened in mid to late December.
Master Sgt. Jerry Amoury is part of the Joint Team Parade Division. The office that has been collecting the applications for PIC. Amoury is very quick to tell you he has nothing to do with the selection process, but he does know this, "The parameter that has to be met by all the applications is that the group has to keep moving forward. You can't stop and do set pieces and dancing."
As for words of advice from the pros, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, "Well, it's cold. It's always cold," says Master Sgt. White, "But beyond that, it's just neat to be a literal part of history."