Thursday, January 22, 2009

Re: And the Band Played Hail to the Chief

Q: What's the deal with the 12:00pm rule on Inauguration Day? Does the President-elect become President at noon regardless if the oath has been administered or not? First I heard of it on Tuesday?

A: First I heard of it too, and I think it’s a lot of nonsense, as subsequent events have proved. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution does state that the old President’s term ends and the new President's term begins at noon on January 20 and, but does not say that the new President can dispense with taking the oath. His term starts at noon, and he can start work once he takes the oath. What if the President-elect were to refuse to take the oath or affirmation? The TV commentators spinning this "regardless if the oath is administered or not" nonsense obviously haven’t thought it through.

Q: So are you saying any band playing Hail to the Chief is sufficient to confirm someone as the President of the United States?

A: We're not talking about any old band, we're talking about "The President's Own" United States Marine Band. The band was founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress. It has played at Presidential Inaugurations since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. It was led from 1880 to 1892 by no less then John Philip Sousa. He wrote the marches Stars and Stripes Forever, Semper Fidelis, The Washington Post, and The Liberty Bell, among 130 others, and also invented the Sousaphone.

Currently under the direction of Marine Corps Colonel Colonel Michael J. Colburn, the band consists of 5 officers and around 130 musicians. These men and women are all U.S. citizens, have been sworn in as marines for a four-year term of service in the Marine Corps, and are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This was Colonel Colburn's sixth inauguration as a member of the band.

Q: Where do you get this stuff???

A: Vocalist MGySgt. Michael Ryan sang “America, the Beautiful” at President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Inauguration Ceremony with the band as 52 American hostages were released after 444 days of captivity in Iran. Just a remarkable coincidence of timing?

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