Fact Check: Details Of Inaugural Wreath Ceremony Do NOT Mean Biden Isn't Official President

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Details Of Inaugural Wreath Ceremony Do NOT Mean Biden Isn't Official President Legit POTUS

Is Joe Biden not the official president because soldiers at a wreath ceremony did not wear their decorations on their coats and the 21-gun salute was moved to Arlington Cemetery on January 20, 2021? No, that's not true: Biden is the official president. The service members were wearing heavy, less-decorated cold weather coats at the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, an Army spokesman told Lead Stories and the traditional gunfire was moved at the Inaugural Committee's request, for security reasons.

The claim appeared as in a video published to BitChute on February 16, 2021 titled "The Inauguration Deception: More Evidence Biden Is No An Official President" (archived here) which opened:

The devil, they say, is in the details... This video is narrated by a military member. He noticed something missing during Biden's attendance at the Inaugural Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so he dug up the same ceremonies ...

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

The Inauguration Deception: More Evidence Biden Is No An Official President

The devil, they say, is in the details... This video is narrated by a military member. He noticed something missing during Biden's attendance at the Inaugural Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so he dug up the same ceremonies ...

Per Army regulations, low temperatures at the Inaugural Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier meant heavy coats, which are not decorated with individual awards, Col. Rob Phillips, Communication Director, Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region told Lead Stories. The officers were wearing easily identifiable designations, including the general escorting Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The general's coat included a two-star shoulder board. Biden's inaugural committee requested that a 21-gun salute not be held after his swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. but it is traditional when a president arrives for an official ceremony to be held there, Phillips said.

The video begins with the caption: "The Inaugural Deception: Laying of the Wreath."

The narrator says:

I was looking at Biden's inauguration again and I noticed none of the military had any ranks or honors on their jacket."

The narrator continues:

Biden didn't do it for some reason [21-gun salute after swearing in], the military didn't have their honors on or their rank. It kinda makes you wonder doesn't it?

Biden is the official president. The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution determines when a new president's term begins. It is not based on what the soldiers wear at a ceremony nor on a 21-gun salute:

Section 1
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin."

Due to the cold weather on January 20, 2021, the soldiers were wearing overcoats, Phillips told Lead Stories via telephone on February 26, 2021. He noted it was 33 degrees Fahrenheit that day and windy. Phillips said they "made a uniform call at 4 a.m., that they would wear dress overcoats." According to Army regulation 670-1, the service members would "not wear awards on the outside of their overcoats." Phillips said, "It doesn't invalidate the president."

Phillips said that officers did have on shoulder boards that revealed their rank.

At 1 minute, 9 seconds into the video, Biden and Harris are walking with a man to her left that is Major General Omar J Jones IV, Phillips told Lead Stories. He is wearing a black overcoat with shoulder boards, which shows he is a two-star general.

A laying of the wreath ceremony is not traditionally held after the president is sworn in, Phillips said. This was the first time it was ever done and was requested by Biden's inaugural committee. Trump was not yet president when he held a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington, and Bush and Obama's were both held in warmer months.

Phillips explained to Lead Stories why the videos showing past presidents' ceremonies differed from Biden's.

The Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Presidential Ceremonies captured in the video hosted by former Presidents Bush and Obama were conducted during warmer weather. For these ceremonies, service members were wearing their ceremonial blouse with their awards and accommodations. Per Army Regulation AR 670-1, awards and accommodations are authorized on ceremonial blouse but not on ceremonial overcoats or raincoats. The wreath ceremony in honor of then POTUS-Elect Donald Trump and VPOTUS-Elect Mike Pence was a private wreath ceremony. The weather on January 19, 2017 did not warrant ceremonial overcoats but allowed servicemembers to wear their ceremonial blouse with their awards and accommodations."

The video claimed the 21-gun salute was suspicious, but Phillips explained why it was not held in the District of Columbia but was instead performed at Arlington National Cemetery.

"For security and public safety, the cannons were not fired at the U.S. Capitol at the request of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies," he said.

The President Salute Battery, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) rendered honors to President Biden announcing his arrival to Arlington National Cemetery with a 21-gun salute. The fire cannon salute is conducted with two cannons alternating their fire with a nine second interval between each round. The Old Guard has a cannon on reserve in case of a misfire.

The video claimed Biden doesn't touch the wreath and all soldiers are very far from him, implying this wasn't an official ceremony or one the military was supporting for the newly-sworn-in president. This was done to prevent COVID-19 transmissions.

Kelly told Lead Stories:

Bush, Obama and Trump's wreath ceremonies captured in the video clips were all conducted prior to COVID-19. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Army Military District of Washington has eliminated the wreath bearer's movement position to adhere to CDC safety measures and physical distancing standards. The ceremonial wreath is now prepositioned and the dignitaries, in this case President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, moved to the wreath and placed their hands on it to represent them laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; just like former President Trump for the 2020 National Veterans Day Observance wreath-laying ceremony."

C-SPAN has a video of Biden at the wreath laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery on January 20, 2021.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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