Inauguration Day marks the beginning of a new president’s term in office. What began as a simple oath-taking ceremony has now developed into a day-long event steeped in tradition.
Some of these presidential inauguration customs are better known than others. Here are six of them and what they mean.
1. First Nail Ceremony — Well before January 20, this tradition marks the importance of the stage where the new president will be sworn in. The chairman and other members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies drive the first nail into the platform in front of the Capitol Building. Here's a look at this year's ceremony:
2. Wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery — This tradition allows the incoming president to honor those who gave their lives for the country he is about to serve. President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence will visit the cemetery to lay a wreath the day before inauguration, according to The Hill.
3. Carpool to the Capitol — Since 1837, the custom has been for the outgoing president and the president-elect to share a ride to the Capitol. Although they may not always speak to each other during this historic ride, they carry out this bold and important gesture, which symbolizes the peaceful transfer of power.
4. Swearing-in ceremony — Always scheduled to take place at midday, it has been held on the West Front of the Capitol Building since the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. After the vice president-elect is sworn in, the president-elect takes the Oath of Office, administered by the Chief Justice. This oath is the only part of the day that is mandated by the Constitution. Shortly thereafter, the new president delivers his Inaugural Address.
5. Inaugural luncheon — The United States Congress traditionally holds a luncheon in Statuary Hall to honor the new head of state. The choice of menu is usually linked to the new president’s heritage. A sophisticated Manhattan meal could be expected this time around.
6. Presidential Procession to the White House — Once sworn in, the president and the vice president parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. The long and unnerving walk for the Secret Service is a chance for thousands of spectators to see the new president and first family. Upon arrival at the White House, they will review the parade from a stage at the edge of the front lawn.
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