The 58th Presidential Inauguration will take place on Friday, January 20th, 2017 and mark the commencement of Donald J. Trump’s four-year term as the 45th President of the United States. The ceremony takes place for each term of a president, even after re-election. Since 1901, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has been responsible for the coordination and execution of the swearing-in ceremonies and the luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. This year, the committee is working in conjunction with the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee to ensure that the day’s schedule will run smoothly. The proceedings promise to be more hectic than most as protests are scheduled to occur around the Capitol and the United States. These protests include the Women’s March, which is considered to be the largest demonstration with an estimated 200,000 people expected to attend. More than 200 sister marches are planned in all 50 states and in 20 countries around the world.
Prior to the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, the inauguration was originally held on March 4th, the last day of the congressional session, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the last president to be inducted into office on that date. As a result, his first term in office was shorter than a normal term by 43 days. He was also the first president to be inaugurated into office on the new date of January 20th. If January 20th falls on a Sunday, as it did during President Obama’s commencement in 2013, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court administers the oath privately and then again in a public ceremony on the following day. Chief Justice John G. Roberts will administer the oath for Donald Trump, as he had previously done for President Obama at both his inaugurations. Below is an outline of the inaugural itinerary as well as some interesting facts about past ceremonies:
- Inauguration Kick-off: The inauguration begins on the morning of Thursday, January 19th, with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery followed by a “welcome celebration.” The celebration will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and features a diverse group of performers.
- Morning Worship Service: Prior to his swearing-in ceremony, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife attended a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, next to the White House, setting a precedent that has been observed by Presidents since then. Every sitting president since James Madison has attended the church at least once. As a result of his Presbyterian upbringing, Donald Trump is planning on attending prayer services at the Washington National Cathedral.
- Procession to the Capitol: After a morning worship service, the incumbent President, sitting to the right of the President-elect, will proceed to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremonies. Inaugural ceremonies routinely take place at the Capitol Building and depending on the day’s weather conditions, the swearing-in commences outside or inside of the building. Only three sitting Presidents have refused to accompany the President-elect on his way to the Capitol: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson. Richard Nixon had departed Washington, D.C. after submitting his resignation and didn’t attend Gerald Ford’s inauguration proceedings.
- Vice President’s Swearing-In Ceremony: A variety of officials have administered the oath to the Vice President and up until 1937, most Vice Presidents took the oath of office in the Senate chamber just before the president was sworn in. Eight Vice Presidents have taken the oath of office upon a president’s death and the ninth Vice President to take office was Vice President Gerald R. Ford, taking the oath of office after President Richard Nixon resigned. Both Michael Pence and Donald Trump will be sworn in on the west front of the Capitol.
- President’s Swearing-In Ceremony: The first inauguration of George Washington took place on April 30th, 1789 in front of New York’s Federal Hall, on a balcony overlooking Wall Street, but it was Thomas Jefferson who was the first person to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C., after it officially became the federal capitol on June 11th, 1800. The opening remarks will begin at 11:30am and Trump will take the oath of office at noon.
- Inaugural Address: The shortest inaugural address on record was given by President Washington, totaling 135 words and the longest inaugural address, coming in at 8,445 words, was given by President William Henry Harrison. President Harrison died of pneumonia one month later, which was believed to have been brought on by the bitterly cold, wet aspects of his inauguration day.
- Departure of the Outgoing President: After the inaugural ceremony, the outgoing President and former First Lady will quietly leave the Capitol via helicopter, weather permitting, to begin their post-presidential life.
- Inaugural Luncheon: The luncheon features cuisine reflecting the home states of the new President and Vice President, as well as the theme of the inauguration, likely to be “Make America Great Again,” Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. It will also include speeches, gift presentations from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and toasts to the incoming administration.
- Inaugural Parade: The first organized parade took place in 1809, at the inauguration of James Madison. The longest parade, which lasted 4 hours and 32 minutes, occurred in 1953 at Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first inauguration. The parade had 73 bands, 59 floats, horses, elephants, as well as civilian and military vehicles. The only parade known to have been canceled as a result of bad weather was Ronald Regan’s second inaugural parade in 1985. There have been instances where the President and First Lady have exited their vehicle, like when President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama left their limousine and walked approximately three blocks before getting back into their motorcade in 2009, but those instances are rare.
- Inaugural Ball: The number of inaugural balls continues to grow since the tradition was revived in 1949. Former President William J. Clinton had an all-time high of 14 balls, a figure that dropped down to nine for President Obama’s first inauguration, and only two official galas were held to commemorate his second term. According to his schedule, President Trump plans on attending three official balls: two with guests from across the country and a ball for the armed services that is dedicated to the military, first responders and other service personnel. There will also be a multitude of unofficial inaugural balls and private dinners throughout the country. The possibility of having an unofficial ball in New York City has also been floated.
Tickets to the ceremonial proceedings are assigned about a month or two prior to the inauguration and may be requested from members of your district in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. They will also be live-streamed on all the major news sites and the White House will offer a live-stream on its YouTube channel. A Spanish language version will be live-streamed on Univision.
The inauguration is considered to be a touchstone of history and we encourage parents and nannies to try to engage their children in learning more about its festivities throughout the day where possible.