3 Va. neighbors remember 1949 inauguration of President Truman - New York News

3 Va. neighbors remember 1949 inauguration of President Harry Truman

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SPRINGFIELD, Va. -

In 1949, Gray Parks and Scott Shipe were West Point cadets. They took a train to Union Station for President Harry Truman's inauguration. They even marched in the parade.

"It was quite an honor to be in the parade as far as I was concerned," says Parks.

Jim Upp was also there. He was a 16-year-old D.C. Boy Scout assigned the duty of helping to line the inaugural parade route.

"It was fun because you had the best eye view of the whole parade as it came by," says Upp.

All three of these men who participated in the 1949 inauguration are neighbors. They all live at Greenspring retirement community in Springfield. They all remember it being quite cold on that day in 1949.

"The cars were coming by the front of the parade," says Upp. "Off went the coats when they passed. Up went the salute. Of course, it was a three-fingered salute at the time."

"Still is - only I can't hold my fingers together anymore," says Shipe.

Yes, they caught a glimpse of the President.

"Yes, I vaguely saw him, but, mainly, I was concerned about these two buttons on the side of my hat," says Shipe. "It seemed like they were constantly tightening and giving me more of headache."

Parks and Shipe also remember Truman's visit to West Point to speak at their commencement in 1952. A pole with a clock on top had been freshly painted for the President's visit - until a cadet played a prank.

"He went out and painted the red stripe like a barber pole around the clock," says Parks.

Administrators were horrified, but the President seemed to get a kick out of it.

"President Truman apparently said if you catch the guy that did it, I am going to pardon him," says Parks laughingly. "This is one of the great things that's happened."

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