The Dummies Guide to the U.S Presidential Inauguration ceremony

One of the many highlights of the year 2016 was the race to the Oval Office between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton which the former won.

Donald Trump undeniably cannot wait to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and he’s not alone in his anticipation – we can confirm that Vladamir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu also cannot wait. Come Friday, the 20th of January, Donald Trump will finally assume the role of POTUS.  Like everything else American, from the election process to the 4th of July celebrations, the details can be very confusing for many. To understand how #InaugurationDay happens, we have provided a simple breakdown below. (You are welcome!)

Since 1937, Inauguration Day happens every four years in America on the 20th of January. In fact, it is such an important aspect of the Presidency in America that the 20th Amendment of the Constitution was made to guide that day.

President Barack Obama will serve his term to completion at 12 noon on the 20th at which point Donald Trump’s term begins officially.

While it is not Constitutionally mandatory, the Inauguration of a new President in America is usually conducted on the steps of the Capitol in Washington D.C. The last one for President Obama was conducted on the Western Front but at different times in history, the ceremonies have been moved around Washington.

Since 1901, The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has been responsible for the planning and execution of the swearing-in ceremonies and the luncheon for the Inauguration of Presidents in the United States.

The first ceremony of the day since Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1933 has been a morning church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, next to the White House. President Obama carried on the tradition through his two terms and this year, it is expected to be the same.

After the morning Church service,  President Obama may or may not issue pardons to prisoners but he will leave a note in the Oval Office for Donald Trump and then attend the inaugural ceremonies.

The tradition is that both the incoming and outgoing Presidents will ride together, leading a procession to the swearing-in ceremonies.


The most important ceremony on that day is the oath of office which the President and the Vice President take. The Vice President will normally go first and his oath will be administered to him by the Chief Justice. He will usually swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and to carry out the duties of the office” after which a band will play: “Hail, Columbia”, a song composed for the inauguration of George Washington in 1789.

At noon, the President-elect is sworn in. His oath goes:

“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.”

Afterwards, a band will play “Hail to the Chief” followed by a 21-gun salute.

Once he becomes President, Donald Trump will then be expected to deliver an Inaugural address. This tradition started in1789 at the first inauguration – of George Washington.

Regardless of all his tweets and utterances, it is this speech that will set the tone for the next four years of Trumps Presidency.

Once the speech is completed, the former President will be flown from the Capitol grounds via Marine One to Andrews Air Force Base for a flight back to his hometown. This year, though, that may not happen as the Obamas have already made it known that they will like to remain in Washington till their youngest daughter, Sasha completes high school. They will be living in a 9-bedroom apartment in Kalorama, Washington.

The new President and Vice President will then return to the Capitol Building for the Inaugural luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a tradition that started in 1953. There will be food, speeches, gifts to the new President and Vice-President and definitely, toasts.

After the luncheon will be the Inaugural Parade organised by the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region – who also select all the bands and other performers that will take part in the parade.

Finally, the day will usually end with an Inaugural ball organised by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Beyond the official activities of the day, there are always a few things to look forward to at any inaugural ceremony in America – who will perform and what celebrity guiests will be invited. In this sense, the inaugural ceremony is almost as sensational as the Super Bowl.

We’ll forever remember Beyonce’s emerald dress at the Obama-Biden inauguration.

Sixteen-year-old singer, Jackie Evancho has been confirmed to sing the national anthem this year at the ceremonies, and New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Franklin Graham are among the faith leaders who will offer prayers or readings during the ceremony.

Hillary Clibton and her husband, former President Bill also confirmed their attendance lastweek.

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