All eyes will be on Washington, D.C., on Friday afternoon, as Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
It's estimated that nearly one million people will be downtown for Mr. Trump's inauguration. With that many people gathering together at one time, there has to be some way to keep things under control, so everyone can stay safe, have a good time and the event runs smoothly.
With the help of the Washington Redskins, the National Guard is ready to step up and heed the call for assistance.
On Thursday, the Redskins opened the gates to FedExField for a very special ceremony involving the National Guard. Over 3,500 soldiers and airmen were administered an oath of duty and placed in an official capacity as D.C. Metropolitan Special Police to support the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police, Metropolitan D.C. Police and eight other agencies.
In all, more than 7,500 National Guard soldiers and airmen, representing 44 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, will be assigned to the inauguration, and they'll have many duties, including traffic control, crowd management, logistics and communication.
"Our whole job here is to ensure the safe transition of power," Brig. Gen. Jeff Bozard, 113th Wing commander, D.C. Air National Guard, said. "We encourage people to come out and participate; however, our job is to make sure that they're all safe doing it."
Bozard's a veteran when it comes to inaugurations, having been a part of two others shortly after joining the National Guard in 2003. Bozard says the trickiest thing about an event of this magnitude is that there are so many moving parts, making the day quite challenging for everyone involved.
"Every one [inauguration] is completely different," Bozard said. "The hardest part is that you have to wait for the Presidential inauguration committee to come in and decide what they want to do. Between the election, and the inauguration, there are huge events going on. Our plans to support all of their plans constantly change, all the way up until the day of the inauguration."
Being part of such a special event as the Presidential inauguration is nothing new for the National Guard, as their involvement in it dates back to April 30, 1789, when local militia members joined the U.S. Army and revolutionary war veterans and escorted Gen. George Washington to his inauguration ceremony in New York City from Mount Vernon, Va.
This generation of National Guard soldiers and airmen share the same excitement and vigor for inauguration duty, as every one of their predecessors did.
"Absolutely," Staff Sgt. Nicole Scarpignato, 275th COG, Maryland National Guard, said. "It's absolutely incredible. You feel a strong feeling of camaraderie. Everybody here you're bonding with, you're family and [we're] all here for the same reason. We're all sticking together, watching each other's backs. It's absolutely incredible to see this large, massive support team here."
"I've never been to an inauguration before, and the opportunity to actually participate is really phenomenal," Scarpignato said. "I'm very excited and I look forward to it."
An opportunity to serve at a Presidential inauguration only comes around once every four years, so for Scarpignato, her duties over the next few days will be quite different from what she's normally used to on a day-to-day basis.
"It's definitely stepping out of my comfort zone," Scarpignato said. "It's definitely something to put in the scrapbooks [and] something to write home about."
It'll be an exciting day for each and every one of the soldiers and airmen come Friday. What's giving them a huge boost is the accommodations that the Redskins laid out for them at FedExField. The team set aside their entire club section for sleeping quarters, as cots were setup as far as the eye could see. There were also mobile kitchens on the main concourse and shower units in the parking lot for the men and women.
The soldiers were extremely appreciative to the Redskins for their hospitality.
"I'd just like to say thank you for the opportunity," Staff Sgt. Michael Wyatt, 192nd Security Forces, Langley Air Force Base, said. "We [got] to walk around the stadium, and the accommodations are great. It's nice in there. Everything is just as expected and up to our standards. It's the best. I'd be happier staying here than a regular hotel."