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Inauguration 2013: A viewer's guide

This event marks the nation's 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremony. The 20th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution sets the beginning of a president and vice president's terms of office at noon January 20 of the year following their election. Since that date falls on a Sunday this year, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will take private oaths on January 20 and public oaths on Monday, January 21. The theme for this year's inauguration is "Faith in America's Future."

Modern presidential inauguration days usually consist of the events below. Some details for the 2013 Inauguration are still pending. This calendar of events will be updated as more details become available.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The president asks citizens to take part in a "national day of service," continuing a tradition the Obama family started in 2009. According to the National Day of Service website, the campaign is to honor the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Service events are held across the country benefiting local communities.

White House Blue Room

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Since January 20 falls on a Sunday this year, Obama and Biden will take private oaths on Sunday at the White House, and public oaths on Monday.

The private swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for 11:55 a.m. ET in the Blue Room of the White House residence (pictured at right). The president will use a Bible that belonged to the family of Michelle Obama's paternal grandmother.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Morning Worship Service

The president will attend a morning worship service just before 9 a.m. ET at St. John's Church. The modern tradition of attending a worship service on Inauguration Day began with FDR in 1933.

Vice President's Swearing-In Ceremony

In modern inaugurations, the vice president has been sworn in shortly before the president on the same platform, most recently staged on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. This year, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will administer the oath of office to Biden. The oath states:

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

The oath of office for vice president is not specified in the Constitution. It was created by Congress and appears in the U.S. Code.

President's Swearing-In Ceremony

After the vice president is sworn in, the presidential oath of office will be administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The oath is specified in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It states:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The words "so help me God" do not appear in the Constitutional oath. That phrase was supposedly ad-libbed by George Washington at his first inauguration, thus setting a precedent for future presidents. However, there is no concrete historical evidence that Washington actually did so.

The president will use two Bibles for his second inauguration: the Lincoln Bible, which he used during the 2009 ceremony, and a Bible used by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The Lincoln Bible is part of the collections of the Library of Congress, and was used at Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration, on March 4, 1861.

Inaugural Address

The president delivers his Inaugural Address shortly after taking the oath of office. Every president has delivered an inaugural address, beginning with George Washington in 1789.


Beyonce Kelly Clarkson James Taylor

Some big names in music will be performing at Monday's inauguration ceremony. Beyoncé will sing the national anthem, Kelly Clarkson will perform "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and James Taylor will sing "America the Beautiful."

Richard Blanco has been selected as the inaugural poet. Blanco will be the youngest person to recite a poem at a swearing-in ceremony. He's also the first Hispanic or LGBT person to serve as inaugural poet.

The United States Marine Band, P.S. 22 choir from Staten Island, New York, and the Lee University Festival Choir also perform during Monday's ceremonies.

Inaugural Luncheon

Since 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has hosted a luncheon at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for the president and vice president. Approximately 200 guests are anticipated to attend this year's luncheon.

This year's menu includes steamed lobster, hickory grilled bison with red potato horseradish cake, and Hudson Valley apple pie with sour cream ice cream.

Want to dine like the president? Get all the recipes here.

Inaugural Parade

Following the luncheon, the president, vice president and their spouses lead a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. (See map below)

Once at the White House, the new president, vice president and their spouses will view the parade from a specially built reviewing stand in front of the White House.

See a map of pedestrian walking routes (PDF) »

Inaugural Balls

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend two official inaugural balls organized by the Presidential Inaugural Committee on Monday: The Commander in Chief's Inaugural Ball, and the Inaugural Ball, both held at the Washington Convention Center.

The Commander in Chief's ball is by invitation only, honoring members of the armed services and Medal of Honor recipients. The Inaugural Ball is open to the public, but tickets have sold out.

Washington National Cathedral

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

National Prayer Service

The president, vice president and their spouses will attend a prayer service at Washington National Cathedral (pictured at right) at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Source: Presidential Inauguration Committee, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies