LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – There was an unprecedented amount of security in Washington D.C. for last week’s inauguration ceremony.
The country seemed to prepare for any threat following the assault on the U.S. Capitol, but after reports and pictures circulated of National Guard troops having to rest in a parking garage while off duty after Inauguration Day, a local veteran said what the country failed to prepare for was taking care of those troops after the ceremony was over.
“A day before the inauguration, we received handshakes and ‘thank you for your service’,” Veteran’s Club Founder and CEO Jeremy Harrell said. “A day after, it was more like ‘hey you have to get out of the way’.”
The backlash has come from both sides of the political aisle and all across the country. It’s sparked outrage on social media, especially among service members in the Veteran’s Club Facebook group.
“I mean, sure, we’ve slept and rested in worse conditions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea, places like that, but we’re in our nation’s Capitol in America, where there are so many other arrangements that could have been made to provide comfort,” Harrell said.
For Harrell, it comes down to the safety of the nearly 26,000 troops who sacrificed time back home to preserve the safety at the U.S. Capitol.
“In a parking garage, they’re essentially a soft target, it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot if someone wanted to do harm to them,” Harrell said. “And, secondly, with the increase in COVID cases, to bring hundreds of guard troops inside of a small parking garage huddled together, that isn’t very safe either.”
Harrell calls it a non-partisan issue that he hopes is a wake-up call for the administration moving forward.
“We need to honor these folks, they’re willing to go up to D.C. and stand in the line of fire or whatever needs to happen to protect the people who lead this country,” Harrell said. “That’s a huge deal, we can’t just pretend and take for granted the sacrifices that are made to make that happen.”
There are conflicting reports on where the directive for soldiers to leave the Capitol grounds came from.
Capitol police have denied reports that order came from them, but it is still under investigation.