Chapter 27

First Woman Commander-in-Chief


      The first important event of the Bicentennial Year occurred on January 8 when the Second Company went to Hartford to participate in the inaugural of Mrs. Ella T. Grasso as Governor of Connecticut. It was the first time in the history of the State that a woman had been elected Chief Executive of Connecticut, and it was the first time in the United States that a woman, not succeeding her husband, had been elected by the people to be Governor of a Commonwealth. And it's the first time in the 200 years of the Foot Guard that its Commander-in-Chief is a woman.

      In the evening, at the State Armory in Hartford, the 83rd Inaugural Ball was held with 4,500 guests attending. Her Excellency Governor Grasso and her husband, Dr. Thomas Grasso, flanked by Executive Officers of the Foot Guard, marched to the Inaugural dais followed by the State's newly inaugurated officials, military dignitaries and former Governor's Raymond E. Baldwin, Wilbert Snow, Abraham Ribicoff and John Dempsey. A frail but game State Democratic Chairman John Bailey, who had left the hospital to attend the ceremonies, and Mrs. Bailey, were among dignitaries escorted to a place of honor on the Inaugural dais by Foot Guard executive officers.

      Governor Grasso, in her Inaugural Address said, "Connecticut faces a challenge as critical and as troubling as any in our history...a challenge perhaps more complex and demanding than any we have faced.

      "From this moment, and as far down the road as I can see, Connecticut will need all the strength and courage and vision that, together, we can bring to her service."

      It is appropriate here, on the 200th Anniversary of the Command, to quote from another address, one given by the Major Commandant Robert H. Gerrish, on the occasion of the celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Second Company, on August 24, 1950. He said:

      Our predecessors have always maintained the lofty ideals of liberty and freedom which characterized the patriots of 1775 who founded the Second Company. In appreciation of their excellent reputation we take a justifiable pride in our organization. We are proud of our men and the services they have rendered their country and their State. We are proud of our spirit of Democracy. And we hope to continue this service to country and to State, to progress with our compatriots in peace and in war, and to set a proper example for future generations of Foot Guarders and Americans."

      The value of former commanding officers will probably never be better realized than in this Bicentennial Year. Because of them the Command has arrived at its present point in history, strong and dedicated to the principles laid down in the Memorial of 1775.

      The Second Company approached its Bicentennial observance with a respect for the past and a faith in the future.

      To record the various and interesting happenings affecting the history of an active and enthusiastic Ancient Military Command such as the Second Company, imposes a problem of time and space. In a narrative of this nature only the outstanding events may be covered with any amount of detail. It is the labor and feats of individuals, working as a dedicated team, that has contributed to the success of the Second Company throughout its long tenure.