Every four years, citizens of the United States have the opportunity to vote for the highest office in the country – the President of the United States.
American presidents are limited to two four-year terms. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the only president to ever serve more than two terms. The 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution says a person can only be elected president twice. That amendment was approved by Congress on March 21, 1947, and was ratified by the states on February 27, 1951.
After a candidate is elected president and the results are certified by Congress on Jan. 6, the Presidential Inauguration occurs on Jan. 20 at noon EST. This ceremony marks the start of a new four-year term. It takes place even if the incumbent is reelected. The only time the inauguration will not occur on Jan. 20 is if that date falls on a Sunday. In such instances, the oath of office is taken privately and then in a public ceremony the following day.
Since the 1981 inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, the ceremony has taken place at the west front of the United States Capitol building facing the National Mall. The only constitutional requirement for the inauguration is the president takes his oath of office. The remainder of the proceedings are about tradition, but they are not a requirement. According to ABC News, the Bible is not a requirement for Oath of Office, nor is having a Chief of Justice administer the oath. But such components have made for a dramatic showcase in the past.
Traditionally, the outgoing president takes part in the ceremony. To date, only three outgoing presidents have refused to accompany the president-elect: John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson.
The president will give an inaugural address after being sworn in. Parades and a lavish Inauguration Ball also typically occur after the inauguration.
The inauguration of the president on Jan. 20, 2021, stands to be a memorable event after all that happened leading up to the date. It may call to mind some other iconic moments in inaugural history: Ulysses S. Grant requested live birds at his inaugural ball, but the day was very cold and the birds ended up freezing to death. At the inauguration of Herbert Hoover, outgoing First Lady Grace Coolidge and incoming First Lady Lou Henry Hoover got lost in the Capitol building and delayed the ceremony for 30 minutes. Lyndon Johnson took the oath aboard Air Force One after the shocking assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The judge administering the oath was a woman, and she was the first and only female judge to swear in a U.S. President. When Barack Obama was sworn in, he became the first African American individual to take the office.
Inauguration Day is a momentous occasion for the nation, rich with an interesting, diverse history.