2001:The Beginning Of A New Presidency
Jan. 20, millions of people around the world will watch George W. Bush
place his hand on an ancient Bible, and repeat the following words:
With that vow, he will become the 43rd president of the United States. In addition to that oath, the rest of the day will be filled with historical traditions.
Bush's inauguration ends one of the longest and most controversial elections in U.S. history. He comes to power at a time when the American public voted in a Senate evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. How will he lead? Join our forum.
Bush will be the second son of a president to win back his father's office. In 1825, twenty-four years after his father left office, John Quincy Adams was inaugurated.
Bush's father has been calling his son "Quincy," inspiring the new president to read a book about the younger Adams.
What lessons will Bush learn from the John Quincy Adams Presidency? Ask our panel of historians.
Speeches and Oaths
Most of the ceremony goes all the way back to the first president, George Washington. Washington gave a speech after taking the oath of office and each president has spoken to the gathered audience on that occasion ever since. Most presidents use the speech to tell the American people about their new ideas and policies for the future.
After an opening prayer by the Rev. Billy Graham, George Bush and Vice President-elect Dick Cheney will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist. Bush and Cheney will lay their hands on a Bible printed in 1767 -- the same Bible George Washington used when he was sworn into office. It's also the Bible Bush's father used when he was inaugurated in 1989. Then Bush will make a short speech.
After the inauguration ceremony, the Presidential party will march down Pennsylvania Avenue about two miles to the White House, followed by a long parade of floats, school marching bands and other displays from every state in the union.
That night, there will be more than 20 official and unofficial Inaugural Balls across the city, exclusive black-tie events that have been mostly sold-out for weeks. Other Inaugural events include public ceremonies honoring America's war veterans and a concert "celebrating America's youth."
Watching the Celebration
The 54th Presidential Inauguration has been put together in about half the time it usually takes to plan these extravagant celebrations. Because the results of the U.S. presidential election were not know until more than a month after Election Day, Bush's team had to hurry up and plan.
But whether you watch the inauguration in person or on television, you probably won't be able to tell. Everything is planned, rehearsed and double-checked -- from the location of the media areas to the music the military bands play during the ceremony and parade.
What do you think? How did the ceremony make you feel about the future of the nation and its leaders? Which parts of the new president's speech interested you most? Were there topics you want to know about that were not addressed? What are your hopes and expectations for the new president?
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