Inauguration Day


By Rachel Rosen & Stephanie Lyon

African Americans were first allowed to participate in the Inaugural parade on March 4, 1865 during the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln; now on January 20th of 2009, the first African American president will be sworn into office.

The presidential inauguration ceremony has a long history dating back to America’s first president; George Washington. His ceremony took place April 30, 1789, and set precedents such as including the phrase “So help me God,” and kissing the Bible after taking the oath. However, now famous traditions, such as the inaugural ball, did not exist until the Inauguration of James Madison in 1809.

According to, the first 28 Inaugurations were overseen by the U.S Senate. But starting in 1901, all Inaugural ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol have been organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

The inauguration custom has come to include a day full of rituals for the President. First is the morning worship service, which began with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Next is the procession to the Capitol, during which the outgoing president accompanies the President-elect . This is followed by the Vice President swearing-in ceremony preceded by the President’s swearing in ceremony.

Since our nation’s first president there have been 54 formal Presidential inaugural ceremonies held at over ten different locations.

After the President is sworn in he delivers the famous inaugural address. This tradition has been upheld by every president since George Washington in 1789. The ceremonies end with the departure of the outgoing president on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. Next is the inaugural luncheon which has been a tradition since 1953. After the luncheon is the parade, which over the years has transformed into a grand event including: floats, escorts, various groups and bands. The day then concludes with the Inaugural ball. Every 4 years January 20th proves to be not only a special day, but a busy one as well.

Alison Benoit, a Business Major, and Junior at Marist feels, “the amount of money being spent on inauguration day related events could be spent on other things”. She recognizes that this is a big day but that doesn’t mean that the spending budget has to go overboard. “A line needs to be drawn in-terms of what is practical and what is not, when creating expenses for this day,” Benoit said.

According to for the 2004 Inauguration the events were going to cost around 40 million dollars collectively with the money “being raised from private donors, more than half of them corporations that gave as much as $250,000 each, as well as sales of tickets and merchandise”.

They also noted that with heightened security measures post 9-11 the cost for security would also increase, “the federal government and District of Columbia bear the costs of providing security, which was around 20 $million.”

With this soon to be historical Inauguration less than 3 months away, there is much planning and spending to be done. Benoit’s take on the matter: “Obama is being treated more like a rock-star than a soon to be President.”

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