Cornelius served at Eisenhower’s 1953 inauguration
Last week's presidential inauguration brought back memories for Marvin Cornelius, who worked the first inauguration parade for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953.
Cornelius told his friend Jim Borgeson the story of the parade.
"I thought this was a great story," Borgeson said. "When I heard that he had done this, I thought this is pretty cool."
Cornelius helped control the crowd for the presidential inauguration parade, while he was stationed in Washington, D.C., during his service in the U.S. Army.
Cornelius was one of the many servicemen that worked the parade for President Eisenhower in 1953. He said it wasn't really that memorable at the time, but now it is something he will never forget.
"Probably at the time, I thought I had better things to do, but looking back, I was pretty fortunate," Cornelius said. "I had a bird's eye view of the parade."
Cornelius said he was in the street as the parade passed by him. His job was to keep the crowd in his area back from the street and the parade.
Cornelius' wife, Shirley, said she remembers her husband working the parade.
"I thought that was great that he was keeping the crowd back," Shirley said. "I didn't know he was that close to me."
Shirley said she remembers the parade very well as she stood near the statue of Ulysses S. Grant on his horse.
"I remember seeing Truman and Eisenhower together in a car," Shirley said. "It was something."
Marvin grew up in the Baldwin City area and graduated from Vinland Rural High School in 1948. After high school, he decided to enlist in the Army with his cousin.
"I graduated from high school, and there were no jobs for 17-year-olds then, so my cousin and I joined the Army," Marvin said.
Cornelius attended basic training at Fort Knox, and then was stationed in Virginia and Tennessee before being shipped to Japan. In June 1949, Cornelius was sent to Japan, then he went to Korea in 1951.
After a short stay in Korea, Cornelius was shipped to Washington, D.C., where he stayed for three years. His last destination was in Panama, where he was stationed from 1955-1957, when he was discharged.
Cornelius said he tries to remember his days in the Army, but only the good ones.
"Your memory is all about the good things," Marvin said. "You forget the things that weren't good."
On Sept. 5, 1952, Marvin and Shirley married each other in Washington, D.C., and have been married 52 years. They are the proud parents of six children, five of which were born during a three-year stretch.
When they were living in Arlington, Shirley gave birth to their first son. Then she gave birth to twin boys in Panama, only to have twin girls once they moved back to Kansas. She did give birth to one more son years later.
Shirley said they lived many different places, but her favorite was Panama.
"I really like Panama," Shirley said. "We didn't have the winter down there. I like the weather in Panama."
The Cornelius family took a vacation in 1966 that covered 18 states and a trip back to Washington, D.C.
When asked if she would remember the inauguration parade, Shirley gave an enthusiastic answer.
"Oh, yeah I will," Shirley said. "I sure will, as long as I can remember."
Marvin is a retired welder and pipe fitter. Shirley is a retired manufacturer and is in a senior bowling league in Lawrence. She currently bowls three days a week. They both help deliver meals on wheels to people in need of assistance.
"He is a really good guy," Borgeson said. "He's a community minded guy and does what he can to help out."