Jan 28, 2017
Pomp, pageantry and politics go into the mix of the inauguration of any new president of the United States. When Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as our third president, he walked to the Capitol for his swearing-in. He read his speech. Then, he went back to his boarding house. By such simplicity, he sent the message to the young nation that its president should not be seen as a monarch.
When James Madison, another Founding Father of our nation, often called the "Father of the Constitution," took office, every item which he wore was made in the United States. He wanted to make a statement about our country's independence. When Abraham Lincoln took office in 1865, he invited African Americans to march for the first time in the inaugural parade. When Barack Obama was sworn in as president, he invited an openly gay marching band to participate for the first time in the parade along with military and school bands.
The inaugural parade dates from the time of Jefferson. When he took office as president for the second time, Jefferson rode on horseback from the Capitol to the White House. Men from the Washington Navy Yard and musicians accompanied him along the way. This post-inaugural procession gave birth to the modern 1.5-mile inaugural parade that includes civilians and military personnel from the entire country. But, not all parades have been as simple as Jefferson's.
Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural parade took place during the Cold War. It lasted 4 hours and 39 minutes. It was the longest of its kind in history. The parade made a statement about our military prowess. It showcased 22,000 service men and women and 5,000 civilians. There were tanks and artillery, 59 floats, 65 bands, 350 horses, three elephants and an Alaskan dog team.
All the ceremonies and celebrations surrounding a presidential inauguration highlight the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. The Founding Fathers established our republic in such a way that our federal government would transition without the spilling of blood in the streets. They wanted to insure continuity and change without revolution. But, they could not prevent protests. In a country that guarantees freedom of speech, it is inevitable that some individuals whose strong views differ from the new president do not remain silent.