If Stacey Holliday ’04, a member of Singing Sergeants, told you she’d be taking part in Inauguration Day 2021, you might assume the alto would be performing as part of the United States Air Force official chorus. And while some members of the U.S. Air Force Band performed in the ceremony on Jan. 20, Technical Sgt. Holliday served quite a different role the Monday before inauguration.
On Jan. 18, Holliday, a Furman University piano performance major, stood in for then Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the inauguration rehearsal.
Holliday says it’s a tradition every four years for a member from at least one of the service bands to play a role in the rehearsal. She was nominated by Chief Master Sgt. Jen Cox, then Holliday was later invited to participate in an interview organized by the Joint Task Force National Capital Region. In recent weeks, she received word that she’d be Harris’ surrogate for the dry run.
“It was so exciting – I loved it. I’m still processing the experience a day later,” Holliday says. On Facebook, she reflected on the moment.
“Today I had the honor of playing the role of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for the 59th inaugural rehearsal. It was truly one of the best experiences so far in my Air Force career. Riding in the motorcade, raising my right hand to swear the oath, and paying respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are all moments I will treasure forever.
“On the other hand, sheltering in place due to an external threat and seeing the rows of cots (some occupied by our brave National Guardsmen) lining the walls of the Capitol building also made quite an impression on me. We’ve come so far as a country and I look forward to seeing and experiencing how much farther we’ll go.”
Holliday, who grew up in an Air Force family, received a master’s degree in piano performance from the University of South Carolina. In 2010, Holliday and Meisha Adderly released an album of piano music written by Black composers.
Her Air Force career began in 2016, and Holliday has been to the White House and to the Capitol many times. But, she says, her foray into the sacred national tradition brought a whole new “layer of awesomeness” to her understanding.
And despite the heightened security around the inauguration with scores of troops and barbed-wire fencing, Holliday says the chance to serve in the swearing-in rehearsal was “amazing” and “such an honor.”
When asked if she might receive a token of recognition for standing in for Harris, Holliday says, “I get a feather in my cap and some cool points … and memories that I’ll treasure forever.”