Today is Inauguration Day, when President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will take their respective oaths of office.
Over the past 228 years—and 57 previous inaugurations—a number of traditions have developed as part of our nation's process of peacefully transferring power from one administration to the next. Here's the schedule of events for Friday, as well as some of the history surrounding them.
All times are Eastern Standard Time.
10 a.m.: Morning Worship Service — This tradition actually began with President George Washington, who attended a church service after he was sworn in. President Franklin Roosevelt made it a permanent part of the inauguration by attending a service at St. John's Episcopal Church, located across the street from the White House, the morning of the inauguration.
11 a.m.: The Procession — With the exception of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, who both walked to the Capitol for their inaugurations, every president has ridden in a carriage or automobile to the location of their swearing-in ceremony. Since 1837, when Martin Van Buren rode with Jackson to his inauguration, the outgoing and incoming presidents have taken this journey, now known simply as "the procession," together.
11:30 a.m.: The Inauguration — There will be some speeches made prior to Pence and Trump taking their respective oaths of office (the vice president goes first, followed by the president, and they have different oaths to take), which begin as close to 12 p.m. as the organizers can get it. Originally, the vice president took his oath in the Senate Chamber, then led the Senate to the inaugural ceremony for the president. Today, they are done together. Prior to 1981, the ceremony was held on the East Front of the Capitol; now it's done on the West Front, facing the National Mall.
12 p.m.: Trump's Inaugural Speech — There isn't any tradition as to the length or subject matter of the presidents' inaugural speeches, and as a result they have varied widely over the years. Washington's second address, clocking in at just 135 words, is the shortest. President William Harrison's speech, the longest by far at 8,445 words, has been considered a contributing factor to his death from pneumonia one month after taking office.
12:30 p.m.: Obamas Depart the White House — The 1889 Handbook of Official and Social Etiquette and Public Ceremonies at Washington describes the outgoing president's retirement as follows: "His departure from the capital is attended with no ceremony, other than the presence of the members of his late Cabinet and a few officials and personal friends. The President leaves the capital as soon as practicable after the inauguration of his successor." Sometimes, this is easier said than done.
1 p.m.: Inaugural Luncheon — The National Statuary Hall in the Capitol will once again host the reception at which the president, vice president and members of Congress will have a three-course meal. This tradition dates as far back as 1897, when the Senate Committee on Arrangements gave a luncheon for President William McKinley and several other guests at the Capitol, but it did not begin in its current form until Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration in 1953.
3 p.m.: Inaugural Parade — Trump and Pence will make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, leading a procession of ceremonial military regiments, citizens' groups, marching bands and floats in a tradition that dates all the way back to 1789. The president, vice president, their spouses and special guests will then review the parade as it passes in front of the Presidential Reviewing Stand.
The weather forecast for Friday, as of this writing, calls for rain, but little wind, and temperatures in the upper-40s. Gates for the spectator areas open at 6 a.m., and music will begin being played at 9 a.m.
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