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Presidential Inauguration Day

Presidential Inauguration Day is set aside every four years as a public event for the swearing in of a newly elected president and vice president or for those who have been re-elected to another term.

Although some federal employees in Washington, DC and surrounding suburbs and counties get the day off as a federal holiday, Inauguration Day is not considered a federal or state holiday any where else in the country. All other employees are expected to show up for work as usual.

The presidential inauguration takes place in January of the year after the elections occurred. The President and Vice President are officially sworn in to begin their term of office at noon that day. The vice president is sworn in first and the president is sworn in at exactly 12:00 noon.

The date for the inauguration is officially listed as January 20th but if the 20th falls on a Sunday, as it did with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, the presidential oath is administered in a private ceremony on the 20th and a public ceremony is held on the following day.

Swearing in ceremonies are organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. The swearing in ceremony usually takes place at the Capitol building with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance and millions more watching on television.

  • If there is bad weather, war, or other reasons, the inauguration may be held indoors or moved to another location. This has happened on occasion in the past.

Over the years, Inauguration Day has become a day long event that include parades, speeches, balls, and other events. As part of the festivities, a band plays "Hail to the Chief" for the new president and and there is a 21 gun salute along with other fanfare.

Those in attendance include the outgoing president and first lady, former presidents and first ladies, supreme court justices, members of congress and the senate, cabinet members, military officers, and other dignitaries.

Presidential inaugurations date back to the year 1789 when George Washington was elected President of the United States. His first inauguration was held on April 30, 1789 and his second was held on March 4, 1793.

March 4 was set aside as the inauguration date until the second term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. This change was the result of the adoption of the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which was ratified on January 23, 1933.

  • The Twentieth Amendment established the beginning and ending terms of U.S. elected officials to federal offices. It changed the day and time of the Presidential Inauguration from March 4 to noon on January 20.

When the inauguration ceremony is over, the president and vice-president are treated as guests of honor at a luncheon given by Congress. Afterwards, they participate in a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and if they choose, they can walk part of the way from the Capitol to the White House.

Most major television networks broadcast the entire ceremony live with teams of reporters, politicians, and political commentators giving their opinions and facts about the election, the inauguration of the new president, and what it means for the country over the next four years and beyond.


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