MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin National Guard continued a tradition dating back to the 19th century by supporting the governor’s Jan. 5 inauguration ceremony.
In the closing days of 1881, Edwin Bryant, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, ordered four companies — the Oshkosh Rifles, Fond du Lac Guard, South Side Turner Rifles, and the Burchard Guard — to rendezvous at Madison on Jan. 2, 1882 “for the purpose of being present at the inauguration of the governor and state officers elect.”
While Gov. Jeremiah Rusk enjoyed a robust military display for his inauguration more than 130 years ago, this year’s ceremony for Gov. Scott Walker was much more low-key, with a color guard and the 132nd Army Band performing select works.
“I am particularly grateful to the members of the 132nd Army Band and all of the other members of the Wisconsin National Guard,” Walker said during his second inaugural address, “not only for your services today, but for the ongoing support of our many brave men and women who are deployed even as we speak. Our prayers go out to each and every one of you.”
Warrant Officer 3 Brad Anderson, 132nd Army Band director, said the concert ensemble spent three drill weekends preparing for the inauguration.
“[The music selection] depends a lot on what the governor’s staff is requesting,” Anderson explained after the ceremony. “For instance, last time there was the ‘Badger Boys March’ because the governor went to Badger Boys camp. If it’s left to us, we try to get a toe-tapper — something patriotic, something that references Wisconsin. Today we did ‘Wisconsin Forward Forever,’ of course, ‘On Wisconsin,’ and we were going to do the ’32nd Division March’ but we didn’t have time for that one.”
In addition to the band and color guard, key Wisconsin National Guard members assisted with pre-ceremony arrangements and escorted VIPs to their places prior to the ceremony. These services are provided not just out of tradition — the office of Wisconsin adjutant general is a state office, and the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs consists of state civilians as well as Wisconsin National Guard members. The 132nd Army Band and color guard appearances are coordinated through the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office’s community relations officer.
Anderson has directed the 132nd Army Band for three inaugural ceremonies, and noted that it is a little more difficult to arrange for traditional Guard members who drill on weekends to be available for a weekday performance.
“But they know the importance of the event,” Anderson said. “I’m pretty sure I can speak to their excitement when you get to play in a setting like that. We have the most beautiful capitol, and it’s a treat to play in there.”