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Events under way for President Bush's inauguration, January 20, 2005

Presidential Inauguration symbolizes the continuity of American Democracy. The celebration begins today

Posted: January 18, 2005

When George W. Bush takes the oath of office for a second time on January 20, the event will mark the 55th time that a U.S. president has been sworn in for a four-year term -- in unbroken succession -- since 1789 when George Washington first took the same oath. While eight presidents died in office -- and one resigned -- each time the vice president took the same oath, and served out the four-year term.

While much has been added to the inaugural events during the last 216 years, the steps that the president-elect will follow to take the constitutionally mandated oath of office, the central event of the inauguration, are essentially the same. The president-elect, before a judge, swears the 35-word oath prescribed in Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, including the pledge to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and “to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution sets the time and date for the presidential oath at noon on January 20. As in previous inaugural ceremonies -- starting with George Washington -- after taking the oath President Bush will give an inaugural address that, among other objectives, will outline the themes of his upcoming four years in office.

As he did in 2001, President Bush will take the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol, which became the location for this quadrennial event in 1801 when Thomas Jefferson was sworn in there. The ceremony will be outdoors on the west front of the building, which overlooks the National Mall and its many monuments. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist will administer the oath. A Supreme Court chief justice first gave the oath in 1797 to John Adams. The swearing-in ceremony -- televised since 1949 -- will be attended by Bush’s family, cabinet members, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, other Supreme Court justices and invited guests. Once the oath is completed, there will be a 21-gun salute, then the Army Herald Trumpets will play “Ruffles and Flourishes” and the U.S. Marine Band will play “Hail to the Chief.” Then the president will give his inaugural address.

Vice President Dick Cheney will be sworn in for a second term at the same ceremony. Only since 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt’s second inauguration, has the vice president been part of the ceremony. Previously, the vice president was sworn in at a Senate ceremony. Constitutionally, the vice president is president of the Senate.

U.S. presidential inaugurations have always been festive occasions, with crowds coming to Washington to be present for the swearing in and other events, to see and hear the new president, and -- in some cases -- to protest government policies, such as during the Vietnam War. Early inaugural celebrations included the president-elect’s trip to Washington where he would be feted and honored in many cities and towns as he made the journey from his home state to the capital. This aspect of inaugurations has been largely lost in the age of air travel.

Many elements have been added to the inaugural program over time. President Bush’s second inauguration will follow the trend of recent years and feature several days of dinners, balls, receptions and other events.

The theme for President Bush’s second inauguration is “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service” -- a special tribute to U.S. troops and their families. “We are a nation at war, and it is fitting that the inaugural events reflect not only the great sacrifices made by our troops every day, but also the cherished ideals that make our nation so unique,” said Jeanne Johnson Phillips, chairman of the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee, the privately financed group that has organized the January 18-21 inaugural program.

The celebration will begin in the afternoon of January 18, with “Saluting Those Who Serve” at the MCI Convention Center in Washington. “This event will pay special tribute to our troops abroad and thank them for their service,” said Greg Jenkins, Inaugural Committee executive director. There will also be a reception for the Inaugural Committee and a youth concert. On January 19, “A Celebration of Freedom” will be held in the afternoon on the Ellipse, a part of the Mall near the White House. This event will include music, other entertainment and fireworks. The cost of the inaugural events, most of which will be paid for with private contributions, will probably exceed $30 million, according to published reports. This does not include all the costs of providing security, which will be much more stringent than in 2001.

On the morning of January 20, the president and his family will attend a service at St. John’s Church, near the White House. Following the noon swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, there will be a parade beginning at the Capitol and following a 1.7-mile route up Pennsylvania Avenue and past the White House. Thousands of people are expected to come to see the parade, which will include more than 70 marching groups, floats and other participants from all over the United States. In the evening, there will be nine Inaugural Balls, including the Commander-in-Chief Ball, a special celebration for those troops who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan or will soon be deployed there, according to the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee. This event “will specifically honor and thank the men and women and their families who are on the front lines of freedom every day," said Jenkins.

The inaugural events will conclude with a prayer service the morning of January 21 at the National Cathedral.

Inaugural 2005 Events Schedule

Tuesday, January 18, 2005 Location
Saluting Those Who Serve The MCI Center
Charman’s Reception Mellon Auditorium
Youth Concert The Armory
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Charman’s Brunch Mellon Auditorium
A Celebration of Freedom The Ellipse
Candlelight Dinner #1 Union Station
Candlelight Dinner #2 The Washington Hilton
Candlelight Dinner #3 National Building Museum
Thursday, January 20, 2005
St. John’s Church Service St. John’s Church
Oath of Office Ceremony US Capitol
Inaugural Parade Pennsylvania Ave.
Constitution Ball Washington Hilton
Freedom Ball Union Station
Independence Ball Convention Center (A)
Texas Wyoming Ball Convention Center (B)
Liberty BallConvention Center (C)
Democracy Ball Convention Center (D)
Patriot Ball Convention Center (E)
Stars and Stripes Ball Convention Center Ballroom
Commander-In-Chief BallNational Building Museum
Friday, January 21, 2005
National Prayer Service National Cathedral



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