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Presidential Inauguration Traditions

Aired January 18, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


. CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome on CNN STUDENT NEWS. On this particular Friday, we`re going to dig deep into the presidential inauguration, we`re going to look at how organizers are getting ready for the event. We`re going to check out some of the history behind it as well. Monday`s forecast for Washington D.C. -- high of 37 degrees, 30 percent chance of snow, near certain chance of inaugural pageantry. Technically, President Obama is going to be sworn into his second term on Sunday, January 20th. The Constitution requires that. But Monday is when the public ceremony happens. Officials are expecting up to 800,000 people on the National Mall Monday. They`ll all be looking toward U.S. Capitol where the public swearing in will take place. Planning for a crowd that big can be tough for organizers.


SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you are one in a throng of people here on the National Mall during the inauguration, try posting your photos on Facebook, and it may be slow-going.

TANYA JONES, SPRINT EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM: You`re going to experience slow data speeds, because everybody is trying to do the same thing. They want to be able to talk, they want to be able to send their pictures, they want to be able to send their text messages.

ENDO: Cell phone providers are hoping to prevent service disruptions like four years ago, and they are putting cell towers like this around the National Mall to handle the crowd. Most people are likely be coming with more than one device.

RICHARD DOLSON, VERIZON WIRELESS: Since the last inauguration, we have built additional permanent sites that serve this area, we have added capacity to existing cell sites and then we have added temporary locations like we have here.


AZUZ: Something else that goes in the planning for inauguration: security. Streets will be shut down, bags will be checked. Certain things like coolers and backpacks not allowed for people going to see the ceremony. Brian Todd talked with someone who has experienced this kind of inauguration day security firsthand, because he was part of it.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe Hagin remembers his first jolt working security in an inauguration. January, 2001, just after George W. Bush`s swearing in, Hagin in the motorcade moving with the new president toward the White House.

JOE HAGIN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Turned down the Pennsylvania Avenue and the military aid who was in the right front seat of the car I was riding in, turned around and said, sir, there is a gas mask under your seat, get ready to put it on. Which was a little - a little startling.

TODD: That was to prepare for possible tear gassing of protesters. As we looked at the buildings President Obama will pass Hagin said the Secret Service, the lead security agency for the inauguration will make sure the buildings are clear of potential snipers. Elsewhere, manhole covers will be welded shut, SWAT teams will be deployed all over the city. Plain clothes law enforcement officers mingling in the crowds, bomb- sniffing dogs, even teams trained on weapons of mass destruction, and ...

DEBRA EVANS SMITH, FBI ACTINT ASST. DIRECTOR: Our dive (ph) team, our intelligence analysts will be working around the clock, our hostage negotiators. That FBI officials spoke to us inside the multi-agency communications center, where security teams will do real time monitoring of surveillance cameras posted on buildings and roads. They`ll also share tips and incidents reports.

TODD: With all the check points, monitoring stations and other precautions, it`s this stage, the parade route, here along Pennsylvania Avenue where the real unknown comes in. It`s often along here where the president gets out of his car.

That`s when the president is most exposed, and the crowds are massive.

(on camera): If he is right in this area, and gets out of his car and walks, what`s going through your mind at that moment?

HAGIN: Well, what`s going through my mind is, you know, having - having faith in the plan and, you know, assuming that the agents are, you know, doing their job.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? George Washington was inaugurated in New York.

Yep. His first inauguration was in New York and his second was in Philadelphia. The first one in Washington D.C. Was Thomas Jefferson`s


AZUZ: The next one is still a few days away. There are some things we know will happen on Monday, though, it`s because we can see the future. No, it`s because we know about the past when some of the traditions surrounding inaugurations started. Today, we are going to look at five of those traditions.

One, President Obama will be sworn back into office at the U.S. Capitol. But he`s got to get there. So tradition number one: the inaugural procession. It goes all the way back to George Washington. Most presidents rode to their inaugurations in a carriage or a car. Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson made the trip on foot.

Tradition number two. The Oath of Office, it`s what the inauguration is really all about. Not too much room for improvisation with this. The presidential oath is written out in the U.S. Constitution. But there is one part you`ll hear Monday.


BILL CLINTON: So help me God.


AZUZ: That wasn`t part of the original script. George Washington ad- libbed it at the end of the oath and nearly every president since has said it as well.

Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears for tradition number three, the inaugural address. No rules here about how long or short the speech has to be, no guidelines for what the president should say. In fact, there is nothing that says he has to give an inaugural speech at all. But every single president has. Once the ceremonies are over, it`s time for the president to head home, so fall in line for tradition number four -- the inaugural parade. The president, vice-president and their spouses lead the way back down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Once they get there, they check out everyone who`s following them from a special reviewing stand.

We can`t close out this party without a party. And that`s our last tradition, the inaugural balls. Yes, that is plural, the tradition started with just one party to honor the president. In 1997, the president attended 14. This year, there are two official inaugural balls, and nearly 50 other parties happening around the same time.

Now that we get some background on inauguration, it`s time to put your inauguration knowledge to the test. The spotlight section of is where you`ll find our inauguration quiz. If you`ve been paying attention so far, you already know two of the answers. Check it out, see if you can score a perfect ten.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me. I`m a U.S. federal holiday that was created in 1983. I fall on the third Monday, in January. I`m named for a famous civil rights leader.

I`m Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And the first year I was officially celebrated as a national holiday was 1986.


AZUZ: Dr. King`s actual birthday was January 15th. This year, Martin Luther King Day is this coming Monday. It`s the same day as the inauguration. The second time that it has happened. The holiday honors the legacy of Dr. King and his work for equal rights. Some people turned it into a day of service, finding ways to help out their communities. We`re going to have more coverage on the day`s events on Tuesday, so you can check that out next week.

We spent most of today`s show looking ahead to Monday`s event. We`re going to wrap things up by looking back. Some of the sites and sounds of a century`s worth of inaugurations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this is not carnival day in pumpkin center. It is the day of days in Washington D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The presidential ...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes the inaugural parade.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you prepared to take the Oath of Office as president of the United States?

GERALD FORD: I am, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swear on the Bible and raise your right hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your right hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will raise your right hand and repeat after me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repeat after me. I, William Jefferson Clinton, do solemnly swear.

JIMMY CARTER: I, Jimmy Carter.


GEORGE W. BUSH: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

JOHN F. KENNEDY: That I will faithfully execute the office.

RICHARD M. NIXON: That I will faithfully execute the office.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE: Execute the office of President for the United States faithfully. Faithfully, the president office - of president of the United States.

OBAMA: ... of president of the United States faithfully.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Well, to the best of my ability.

CLINTON: ... best of my ability.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eisenhower began his second term as leader not only of America, but all free people.

KENNEDY: Preserve.

NIXON: Protect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and defend.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON: Constitution of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and the grief- stricken widow with him takes the presidential oath aboard the jet, which brings him together with the body of the late president back to Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flag flies at half staff, as President Truman asks the full Roosevelt cabinet to remain in office.


NIXON: So help me God.

OBAMA: So help me God.

CLINTON: So help me God.

FORD: So help me God.

NIXON: So help me God.

GEORGE W. BUSH: So help me God.


ROOSEVELT: So help me God.

REAGAN: So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire country behind (inaudible) patriotism.


AZUZ: That`s cool. So like you saw, taking the oath means saying the same words as the people who came before you, but that`s the thing about inaugurations. They are all about setting precedents. We are back on Tuesday. No show Monday because of MLK Day. I hope you enjoy your weekend. Bye.