A Cold Day in January: The Presidential Inauguration

By Michael Kaplita

Every four years the nation gathers together and organizes one of our most important ceremonies in American culture. On the 20th of January at 12 noon after each Presidential Election the President Elect and VP Elect are sworn into office and the current President takes his or her leave from office. The ceremony marks the first moments of the new or returning President of the United States as he or she gives the Inaugural address to the nation. After the address, the President partakes in several events including a major parade and an overwhelming amount of galas that last long into the night.

The world watched while on January 20th 2009 Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States. Over one million Americans attended the ceremony in Washington DC and gritted their teeth through the frigid temperatures so that they could witness history as the first African American took office. At home roughly 60 million americans watched the Inauguration via TV or Internet. CNN reported that it generated more than 21 million video streams by 3:30 p.m. EST in addition to receiving 136 million page views that single day. The millions of Americans and citizens of all other world nations who watched the ceremony will hardly forget what they saw that day.

At noon, after song and musical performances, and political and religious speeches the VP Elect Senator Joe Biden took the Oath of Office from Justice John Stevens and became the 47th Vice President of the United States. Shortly after, Barack Obama, Chief Justice John Roberts, Michelle Obama and the two Obama daughters took the stage for the swearing in. The Oath of Office is recited as follows:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. [So help me God]

Unfortunately for Obama, Chief Justice Roberts made a mistake when reciting the oath. He said, “that I will execute the Office of President to the United States faithfully”, instead of, “that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.” When reciting the oath back Obama noticed the mistake, nodded his head prompting Roberts to correct himself, but still recited the incorrect version of the oath. This led some to believe that Obama didn’t become President because the oath was incorrect. On the contrary, according to the constitution Bush’s term ended at noon on January 20, 2009 and Obama’s term starts immediately after. Regardless of the mistake Obama took office noon that day, although as a formality and precaution he retook the oath the following day in the Whitehouse.

After the oath, the newly inauagarated President Obama gave his Inaugural address to the country detailing his goals and his responsibilities for reviving the country in the next four years. Following his address, Obama signed his first Presidential orders abd attended a luncheon. Then he and the First Lady travelled from the Capitol building to the Whitehouse in the traditional motorcade parade where the two twice left their limo to walk portions of the trip and greet the enthusiastic crowd. Once they reached the Whitehouse, the Obamas, Bidens and many other guests watched the Inauguration parade which even included the Punahou School marching band from Obama’s high school in Hawaii. Even after the long parade the President attended ten Inaugural balls that evening before spending his first night in his new home, the Whitehouse.


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