When Richard Nixon Made the Secret Service Look Like a Marching Band
Queen Elizabeth II's somber funeral featured all the pomp and circumstance that the monarchy and the government could muster.
It seems that Queen Elizabeth met President Richard Nixon many times during his duration in office, both as the vice president and as president. He was so inspired by the ceremonial uniforms of the palace guards in the UK and Europe, the Philippines, Indonesia and India that he decided it was time to give the Secret Service a makeover.
When you envision a Secret Service agent, do you think of someone like Clint Eastwood in the film In the Line of Fire? My mind went straight to rock and roll legend Johnny Rivers, who sang "Secret Agent Man."
However, Nixon fantasized the new secret service of 1970 would wear uniforms that include a white double-breasted jacket with golden shoulder trim and a thin-brimmed police peaked cap with gold braid. There were wide black leather shoes, belts and matching holster for a sidearm, on black pants with a white stripe down the legs.
After presenting the new uniform publicly, the laughter, teasing and scorn arrived by the truckload. The press was not impressed. The uniforms were compared to costumes of a banana republic. Criticisms from every sector poured in.
Nixon saw the embarrassment the Secret Service agents were going through, and reluctantly threw in his peaked hat. The uniforms were thankfully only used for a few months.
The Secret Service wasn't the last group to wear the uniforms, however. They were mothballed for a decade in storage.
The U.S. government then decided to put the uniforms up for sale for about $5 each and sold them to Meriden-Cleghorn High School in Marcus, Iowa, where the school district marching band was having financial trouble getting uniforms of their own.
I liked the way this story ended.