NASHVILLE -- Marshall County was well represented at the inauguration of Gov. Bill Haslam on Saturday when the Forrest High School Rocket Band of Blue marched in the inaugural parade and the Metro Nashville Police Mounted Patrol rode horses donated by members of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association headquartered in Lewisburg.
It was the first time the Band of Blue marched in an inaugural parade, according to band historian Cindy Meacham who said the band played "Salute to America" and "Down." Nearly 50 Forrest musicians and their associated units marched in the parade. The Rocket Band of Blue was the Tennessee Division 1 Marching Band Grand Champion in 2007.
They were among hundreds of Tennesseans in Nashville because of the Republican businessman -- sworn in as the first governor from Knoxville since William G. "Parson" Brownlow in 1865. Haslam's inaugural address resonates in Marshall County where 16.2 percent of the workforce is unemployed.
"This is a state with people who are up to the challenges we face," Haslam said in prepared remarks. "For some ... opportunities are scarce or difficult to attain. Too many ... remain unemployed and many more are underemployed."
The Republican governor sought understanding: "Government stands ready to assist, but government is not the solution."
Work force development and technical training are building blocks of job recovery and security, he said. "Equally important is ... individual determination and drive to invest the time and energy and hard work to be more."
Security included snipers on buildings around the ceremony, but Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott said they're a common security measure for inaugurations and not a response to the recent Arizona shootings that killed six and left a congresswoman critically wounded.
About 160 law enforcement officers from around the state provided security, including Sgt. J.D. Harber, who leads the Mounted Patrol that uses only Tennessee Walking Horses, and has represented Nashville, the state and the breed as goodwill ambassadors at venues such as the opening parade for the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky., last fall.
"We were honored to have Sgt. Harber and the Nashville Metro Mounted Patrol representing the TWHBEA at the parade," Association Executive Director Stan Butt said. "Sgt. Harber was recently selected as the TWHBEA Pleasure Horse Ambassador for 2010 at our Awards Banquet at association headquarters here in Lewisburg in early December."
The mounted patrol horses are trained for the duty.
"I was real proud of our horses, considering we had cannon fire and the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band right behind us," Harber told Butt.
The band historian said the band marched from Municipal Auditorium to Legislative Plaza and to perform for Haslam who was at 6th Avenue where it stopped and played. The gubernatorial inauguration committee called for the band in December.
"The band was very honored and excited to be a part of the historical event," Meacham said.
Her daughter, Kimberly Meacham, 17, is a field commander.
"It's not every day that you can march for the governor," Kimberly said. "It was a good day. Everything went well, other than being cooped up in the auditorium for a long time... I think we waited ... almost two hours. It was a lot of fun, though," being in the parade.
Kimberly also plays the clarinet.
Caleb Boone, 16, plays the trumpet and explained that "Down" is a modern song by Jay Sean with Lil' Wayne.
"You won't be lonely, even if the sky is falling down," are lyrics in its chorus, according to a Web site on the song. The version played by the school band is arranged by Doug Adams. "Salute to America" includes three patriotic songs arranged by Mike Stor.
"Everything went as planned," Boone said. "Once it got moving it was over pretty quick."
Would he want to do it again?
"To be honest, no," he said. "Parades are stressful.
"I'll be a senior next year," Boone said. "I'm going to Tennessee State University, but I don't think I'll be in their band. I don't think I can keep up with them."
The parade included 26 bands: military bands, university bands, high school bands and middle school bands. Only two Division I marching bands, Forrest School and Adamsville High School, participated.