Eyewitness to history: Trooper from Alexandria didn't realize how exciting it would beRick Schueler of Alexandria was at the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. But, he didn’t get to see it. All he watched was the throng of spectators lined along the parade route.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Rick Schueler of Alexandria was at the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
But, he didn’t get to see it. All he watched was the throng of spectators lined along the parade route.
For the majority of the parade, his back was turned toward the street – and to the newly elected president and vice president.
Although he could tell when the motorcade with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was a few feet behind him because the crowd grew louder and moved closer to the gates.
“With the tone of the crowd and the looks on their faces, we knew without a doubt he [Obama] was right behind us,” said Schueler in an interview late Wednesday afternoon, shortly after arriving back in Alexandria.
Schueler, a trooper for the State Patrol for the past 19 years, was one of about 22 troopers from Minnesota who was chosen to be on parade duty for the inauguration of Obama, the nation’s 44th president.
Stationed between 11th and 12th Streets, Schueler’s duty – along with the hundreds of other law enforcement officials and military personnel – was to keep track of the parade-goers along the route.
Schueler learned last November that he was going to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration.
“I was one of the lucky ones chosen,” he said. “I was excited to hear that I was going, but I didn’t realize how exciting it would be until I actually got there.”
Along with the rest of the troopers from Minnesota, Schueler left for Washington, D.C. on Sunday. Because this was a business trip, he didn’t take any of his family members with him. And he didn’t really get to take in any of the sights. Schueler did have a little time to go visit the Law Enforcement Memorial, which he said was a somber event.
“To actually see that many names, it made quite an impact,” said Schueler.
On Monday afternoon, Schueler took part in a four-hour training session and was sworn in as a U.S. Deputy Marshal. He said there were between 4,000 and 6,000 other law enforcement officials being trained in the same day.
The training took place between noon and 4 p.m., which in most cases would leave plenty of time for sightseeing. However, because there was so much traffic congestion, Schueler said getting from where the training was held back to the hotel was not an easy task.
“There was way too much traffic to move around easily,” he said. “Besides, we needed to turn in early because our bus was leaving at 2:30 in the morning.”
Schueler said the officers had to be on site for their parade duty at 4:30 a.m. The reason is because after a certain time, no more vehicles were being allowed in the parade area.
“We had parade detail. Our whole reason for being there was for security purposes, not to watch the parade,” said Schueler. “You have a job to do and you do it. It was a very serious assignment.”
But he did admit that there were fun moments and times that were a little more relaxed and not filled with as much tension. This is when he got to interact with the people in the crowd.
When the parade-goers in front of him found out he was from Minnesota, he said they were razzing him about being used to what they thought were bitterly cold temperatures. Schueler said with the wind chill, it was around five degrees above zero.
The joke, he said, was that the temperatures were warm enough that it felt like he was on spring break.
During the parade, which Schueler said was “very long,” there were no incidents or anything negative that happened. Everything seemed to go really well and went according to plan, he noted.
Although he said someone held up a sign that said something about how legalizing marijuana would take care of the national debt.
Other than that, Schueler said the crowd was friendly and full of many different stages of emotions.
“There was definitely not just one emotion,” he said, explaining that people were laughing, crying, singing, dancing, cheering and hugging.
After arriving back at the hotel around 8 p.m., Schueler said he felt tired, but glad to be a part of history.
“I felt fortunate to be a part of this,” he said. “I am glad I went. It was an experience of a lifetime.”
And although he would do it again in a heartbeat, Schueler said he would first let other troopers have the opportunity.
Schueler also noted that his wife, Melisa, and their two girls, ages 12 and 14, have always talked about going to Washington, D.C. and that now, it’s not a matter of wanting to, but “that we need to get there someday.”