"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve protect, and defend the Constitution of the Unites States."
Those words will only have been uttered 53 times after Bill Clinton takes his second oath of office today. George Washington was the first and he set a precedent for all his successors by tagging the phrase "so help me God," to the end of the 35-word pledge.
Franklin Pierce, in 1853, has been the only president to "affirm" the oath, rather than "swear."
The Constitution does not require that the president swear the oath on a Bible, but President Washington was once again a trend-setter by placing his left hand on one while raising his right. With the exception of Theodore Roosevelt, who was quickly sworn in after the assasination of William McKinley, every president since James Buchanan in 1857 has taken the oath with his hand on the Bible.
The page of the Bible the president chooses to be open is intended to symbolize his aspirations for the upcoming four years.
Today, Hillary Clinton held open the Clinton family Bible upon which her husband took his second oath of office. The following is the Biblical verse contained on that page:
President Bill Clinton labored over his second inaugural address, searching for the words that will resonate with people in years to come. But only a few of America's leaders have managed to make history during those few minutes. Here is a sampling:
The first inauguration saw the first inaugural parade, as George Washington's former troops started the tradition by launching an impromptu escort of their general.
Over the years, the parade has evolved into the elaborate event it is today. In the early years it was more a cermonial escort of the president from the White House to the Capitol before the swearing-in ceremony. Now the route is reversed and held after the oath of office is taken.
The number of participants have multiplied each year as well. Originally the procession consisted simply of members of Congress, government officials and friends of the president. Over the years, floats and marching bands were added. William Taft's wife Helen made history by becoming the first first lady to ride with her husband.
With modern technology, the presidential mode of transportation has changed as well. William Harding was the first president to ride in a automobile, while Lyndon B. Johnson's ride was the first to be bullet-proof. Jimmy Carter reversed that trend by walking in the parade, much to the chagrin of the Secret Service.
Irene, The Donkey
No one can accuse the Democrats of being bad hosts. Friends, family and contributors to the Clintons enjoy staying in the White House's Lincoln bedroom. Even the party's official mascot is living in grand style during her stay in the capital this weekend. Irene the donkey, who has traveled from her home state of Alabama to march in the inaugural parade, is sharing a suite in Washington, D.C.'s majestic Mayflower Hotel with her trainer, Willie Kirk.
Did you notice that the petite Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was standing eye to eye with Vice President Al Gore as she administered his oath of office? There was no trick photography involved, but instead a discreet platform, covered in the same light blue rug as the platform, that was quickly whisked away when Ginsburg was done.
Power certainly brings its privileges for President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. During today's chilly swearing-in ceremony the two men witnessed the events from high-backed, roll-armed leather chairs as the rest of the VIPs on the stage sat on the more common folding chairs.
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