ROCK — A Mercer County resident who joined the U.S. Army after graduating from high school in 2019 found himself only a few feet away when the 46th president of the United States was sworn into office.
Brian Blankenship, now 19, of Rock was a member of the JROTC when he attended PikeView High School. He is now a soldier in the Honor Guard Company, Second Platoon, which is the Presidential Casket Platoon. This unit would have duties at presidential funerals, but it also has flag duties at ceremonies and prepares the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for wreath ceremonies, he said.
Blankenship said he did not know what process was used, but he was chosen to be one of five soldiers on the presidential platform Wednesday when President Joe Biden Jr. was sworn into office. “I have no idea how that works, but that is where they told me I was going to be and where I would be standing,” Blankenship said.
Being part of the inauguration ceremony and so close to the new president and vice president also put him into close proximity with former presidents like Barrack Obama and celebrities such as Lady Gaga, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“It was exhilarating,” Blankenship recalled. “It was just crazy, seeing all the former presidents and all the celebrities that came. They were all within 20, 25 feet of me, which was crazy. I never thought that would happen.”
Blankenship said he was still deciding whether to make a career of the Army or move on when his enlistment is over.
“I still have a year and a half,” he said. “I just want to get a better feel of how the Army runs before I make that decision.”
Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org