Today is the presidential inauguration. In previous years, this day was a day of celebration with little controversy. But 2020 and now 2021 are not normal years. In fact, there was some controversy four years ago. This year, the controversy erupted into an attack on our capitol.
For a moment, it is worth reflecting on our inaugural history. George Washington took office in 1789 in New York City to the sounds of ceremonial artillery and church bells ringing. He made his way through the large crowds to Federal Hall to take the oath of office.
Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C. By the time of his second inauguration, Jefferson rode on horseback from the Capitol to the president’s house. The procession that followed him eventually grew into the inaugural parade we will see today.
Who the president selects to join him in an inaugural parade can make a statement about his views and beliefs. Abraham Lincoln, for example, invited African Americans to march with him during his second inauguration.
The format for the oath of office can be found in Article II of the U.S. Constitution. It is reported that at the end of the oath, George Washington added the words “so help me God.” That tradition continues to this day.
James Monroe was the first president to give an inaugural address to a crowd. Since that time, presidents have used the occasion to speak directly to the American people.
Unfortunately, a cloud hangs over this inauguration day that is even greater than the cloud that hung over it four years ago. Nevertheless, we can still celebrate that in this country we have a transition of power that generally has been peaceful and pray that peaceful transitions will happen again in the future.