Moving In on Swearing-In Day
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, January 20, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Until noon January 20th, Barack Obama was president of the United States, but at precisely twelve o’clock noon Donald J. Trump took the oath of office and became the 45th president of the United States. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is responsible for planning the inaugural events that showcase the peaceful transfer of power to the newly-elected leaders of the world’s most powerful nation.
Typically, the vice president is sworn in first, followed by the new president at exactly 12:00 noon. After they are sworn in and before a performance of “Hail to the Chief,” the president and vice president are honored with four drum ruffles and flourishes on simple brass bugles with no valves. A drum ruffle is more subdued than a drum roll.
After the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, the new president watches the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the presidential viewing stand in front of the White House. The president and vice president are guests of honor at a luncheon given by Congress. Later in the day, they parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and walk part of the way from the Capitol to the White House. But, if Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the oath is usually administered in a private ceremony January 20th. The public ceremony and celebrations are held the following day.To reduce traffic in the area, Inauguration Day is a federal holiday for many workers in D.C. and surrounding areas, but schools, stores and other organizations do business as usual in most of the country. Although some states have made Inauguration Day a state holiday, Georgia has not.
The largest crowd to witness a presidential inauguration took place in 1841, when William Henry Harrison became president of the United States. In 1853, Franklin Pierce became the only president to “affirm” rather than “swear” his oath of office, which is allowed by the Constitution.
In 2009 Barack Obama, actually, was sworn in twice. Because he and Chief Justice Roberts misspoke on January 20th, Barack Obama re-took the oath January 21, 2009 in the White House Map Room, before a small audience of presidential aides, reporters and a White House photographer. Obama placed his hand on the Bible during the first ceremony, but no Bible was present at the re-take. That could have been a providential indication of things to come. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.