The Presidential Inauguration, the ceremony where the new President takes the oath of office and officially starts his or her presidency, always takes place on January 20. It includes the swearing in ceremony where the President-elect and Vice President-elect take the oaths of office. This is followed by the inaugural address, which is a speech made by the new President. The ceremony usually incorporates a few prayers; musical works and poetry readings have also been included on occasion. Other inaugural events often include: a luncheon held by the leadership of the U.S. Congress honoring the new president and vice president, a presidential procession and an inaugural parade where they make their way from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. There are always many spectators who gather on the National Mall to watch the ceremony (via video screens) and participate in the parade and there are often protest activities as well. There are official and unofficial Inaugural Balls and the newly named President and Vice President attend many of the official balls. There is a tradition that a national prayer service is usually held the day after the inauguration.
Teaching about and reflecting on the inauguration is an opportunity for students to learn more about how government works, engage in various aspects of civics education and think critically about the office and the individual becoming President. Here are some teaching ideas for watching, discussing and analyzing the Presidential inauguration.