Southwest Texas State College and Johnson's Inaugurations
1961 Inauguration as Vice President
In January 1961, Vice President Johnson recruited Southwest Texas State College's marching band to honor Johnson's Texas roots at John F. Kennedy's presidential inauguration. The San Marcos community and the college worked hard to raise money for the band, the Strutters, and the majorette corps to travel to Washington, D.C. The SWTSC group was among four Texan bands to be invited to perform. In front of one million spectators and seventy million television viewers, the band played and the Strutters danced to new musical arrangements of several classic Texas songs, including “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”
In a 1961 letter written to College President Dr. Flowers, Johnson expressed that he had “heard only the finest things about the band. When they came marching down the street, I called the President’s attention (and Lady Bird says everybody else’s who sat in the Official Reviewing Stand) to ‘my folks.’ I couldn’t have been more proud.”
1965 Inauguration as President
The SWTSC Marching Band, Strutters, Bobkittens, and Color Guard were invited again to perform at Johnson’s 1965 presidential inauguration. Johnson was so pleased to see the band that he stopped the entire parade procession to get out of his presidential vehicle and speak with the performers, much to the surprise of the Secret Service. Once the band reached the presidential reviewing stand, they played the “Lyndon Baines Johnson March.” Thanks to Johnson, the SWTSC Marching Band will forever have the distinction of being the first civilian band in the history of the United States to lead the inaugural parade as the President’s escort.
Footage of the 1965 inauguration parade is provided by the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum.