Election 2012: America Prepares for Inauguration Day
President Obama's second term begins on Monday
The 2012 presidential election cycle reaches its official conclusion on Monday. That's when citizens and elected officials will gather in Washington, D.C., to witness President Barack Obama be sworn in for his second term in office.
According to the 20th Amendment of Constitution, the current President's term ends at noon on January 20 after serving out a four-year term. The incoming or reelected President is then sworn in by taking the Oath of Office, also established by the Constitution. The Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
"The inauguration acknowledges the change of administration under the Constitution, in a peaceful transfer of power," explained William B. Allen, a retired dean and professor from James Madison College at Michigan State University. "This Oath, taken by all Presidents, is necessary before being allowed to execute the role of the President and it is required by the Constitution. It is a reminder of the source of their authority and the limitations on that authority."
"Young people should learn early that such testimony is an affirmation of their liberty and what it takes to sustain it," Allen added.
The swearing-in tradition dates back to when America became an independent nation. "In the 18th century, oaths were regarded as a major way to put individuals on record for moral responsibility," Jack Rakove said. Rakove is a Stanford University Professor of Early American and Constitutional History and Political Science. He is also the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America.
This year, January 20 falls on a Sunday. So the inauguration will proceed a little differently than normal.
On Sunday, President Obama will be officially sworn in by Chief Justice John Robert during a ceremony at the White House. But then on Monday, January 21, there will be a ceremonial swearing in on the steps of the Capitol Building. This has been the site of inaugurations since the 1930s. This allows millions of people to come together — in Washington and across the nation — to hear President Obama's inaugural address and witness history.
"The inauguration is a great ceremony to observe" Rakove said. "A few American speeches really echo throughout America's history [like inaugural addresses] and often they identify the beginning of presidencies that we really remember."
The swearing-in ceremony and the President's speech are only the first events of Inauguration Day.
There is a grand parade from the Capitol to the White House symbolizing the President beginning his job as leader of the United States. There are also numerous Inaugural Balls. These parties are not paid for by the government. Instead, private individuals and organizations organize Inaugural Balls as celebrations of the new President. But this year there won't be as much partying. The 2013 inauguration will feature the lowest number of Inaugural Balls in 60 years.
But what makes Inauguration Day really important is that it allows students across American to see our new leader.
"We need to see who is going to be running our country," Jennifer Norwood, a teacher from Hillsboro, Oregon, said. "It's a formal ceremony welcoming the President into the White House. It's been a tradition since the nation was started, so it's good for us to keep traditions."
Or as Dee Moore, a 7th grade language arts teacher at Poynter Middle School in Hillsboro, sums it up: "It's history in the making."
Kid Reporter Hannah Presnky will be at the 2013 Inauguration, covering President Obama's swearing in and speech, as well as other events happening in Washington. Follow her coverage on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog!
Scholastic News Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail! Keep up with latest election news on the Election 2012 website.
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Jacob Schroeder is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps,