News

    US Inaugural is Tradition-Filled Ceremony

    Multimedia

    What we are about to witness is a carefully choreographed ceremony, almost none of it proscribed by law.   Every element in the inaugural, except for the actual oath of office, has become tradition after an earlier president first established a precedent.

    Dating back to George Washington, U.S. presidents had to invent the inaugural ceremony.

    From the first inaugural, George Washington's in 1789, most of what we see in the now elaborate ceremony has grown from tradition.  The constitution requires only the oath…

    …and the date, January 20th.

    Even the Bible is not required by law.

    George Washington was the first to use a Bible and the first to give a speech.

    There have been many other firsts:

    --Warren Harding, in 1921, the first to ride to his inaugural in a car.

    --Harry Truman, in 1949, the first inaugurated on nationwide TV

    --And John F. Kennedy, in 1961, the first Catholic president, although he is remembered more for his relative youth.

    “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century," Kennedy said in his Inaugural Addess.

    President-elect Barack Obama will place his hand on the Bible that Abraham Lincoln used.  Clark Evans oversees rare artifacts for the Library of Congress. “By association, the Bible is priceless," he says.

    "Here we have the first African American to be inaugurated as president, taking the oath of office on the Bible that the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln similarly used," explained Evans.

    “This is a huge change for us if you look at the historical past of this nation’s,” says Associate Senate Historian Donald Richie, a scholar of presidential inaugurations. He says Mr. Obama becomes president less than a half century after Congress guaranteed blacks full voting rights.  And Richie says many who have watched both say they are inspired by Mr. Obama much as they were by President Kennedy.

    The new president will step to the microphone amid two wars and the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    Richie points out, "There's something about a crisis that makes everybody very concerned about what the president is going to say."

    People pondered Mr. Obama's burdens as they snapped photos of the inaugural stand.  But Hazel Gregg, who lives in the Washington area, says fear is not the dominant feeling. “I think people are generally anxious,” says the Inauguration attendee, “but I really feel that people are hopeful as well because this is a kind of new beginning for us."

    When the new president steps to the microphone Tuesday, he will speak to a nation with high expectations.  Public opinion polls show as many as eight in 10 Americans say they are optimistic about the next four years.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora