Sitting out the inauguration

For the Kerr family of Newport Beach, presidential inaugurations run in the blood.

Robert Kerr attended Lyndon B. Johnson's inauguration parade in 1965. His son, Alexander Kerr, was at Barack Obama's on Monday.

They both went as part of the Culver Military Academy Black Horse Troop, a riding unit run by the prestigious Culver Academies boarding school in northern Indiana.

The troop has ridden in 16 presidential parades, the first in 1913 as an escort for Vice President Thomas Marshall during Woodrow Wilson's inauguration.

Unfortunately, watching from the bleachers as those riders trot toward the president also runs in the Kerr family.

"Being an alternate is the curse that falls on most of the troopers that joined with no previous riding experience if the inaugural parade is in their first or second year," Robert Kerr said.

Such was the case for Robert, a sophomore in 1965, and Alexander, a 14-year-old freshman this year.

That didn't dampen Alexander's spirits during the bus ride back to school Tuesday.

"One of the main reasons I went to Culver is I wanted to try new things, new experiences," he said, and attending an inauguration may be an event unique to a lifetime, he said.

"I was happy to be there and to have helped," Alexander said. He had no equestrian experience before attending Culver and described himself as a "helper monkey" for the other troopers.

Alexander first heard about Culver when his father went to a reunion in 2007. Alexander attended Newport Heights Elementary and Ensign Intermediate schools in Newport and was determined to follow his father's example at Culver, Robert said.

And so far he has, riding in the Black Horse Troop and rowing crew, which was his father's sport at the academy as well.

However, Alexander differs in one area, Robert said. "He is a very good competitive swimmer, and I just mostly sink quickly."

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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