Every four years in the United States, the day of January 20 takes on a special significance. It's Inauguration Day. That's the day a new four-year term begins for their president.
For the last two inaugurations — in 2009 and 2013 — the man of honour was its 44th president, Barack Obama. But today at noon, that person will be its 45th commander-in-chief: Donald J. Trump.
As always, there will be a large public ceremony on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. In fact, we have lots of information on the inauguration in the January 19th issue (issue 11) of our OWLconnected eMag (check it out, subscribers!). Here are a couple bonus notes about today's ceremony.
What's with that word?
Inauguration. (Say "in-AWG-yuh-RAY-shun".) It's a bit of a mouthful, right? It's a pretty rare word — one of the few times you hear it at all is at this time every four years in the United States. Most other world leaders don't use it as an official term. So what exactly does it mean?
The word comes from the Latin inaugurationem, which means "consecration." Consecration usually means a serious dedication to some kind of spiritual or religious service. So when the founders of America (especially Alexander Hamilton) first used the word "inauguration" in 1789, it wasn't by accident. They likely meant to say that becoming President of the United States was not just a political position. It was a sacred, serious job with a deep meaning to the country.
The Lincoln Bible
While Donald Trump and Barack Obama are from different political parties with very different beliefs, as of noon today, they will share one unique distinction: they will be the only two presidents to be inaugurated by swearing the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible (other than Abraham Lincoln himself, of course).
Okay, let's back up. The oath of office is a pledge every president makes to begin their term, or time as president. They usually do it by placing their hand on a bible to indicate their dedication. Obama chose to use the same bible as Abraham Lincoln did in 1861 at his inauguration. This carried a lot of extra meaning: Obama was the nation's first black president, while Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that made slavery illegal in the Untied States. Today, Trump will use the same bible, along with a bible from his own family that his mother gave him in 1955.
One last bit of trivia: The Lincoln Bible was actually a last minute purchase. Lincoln's election was very controversial (only a month after his inauguration, the Civil War between the North and South began). So Lincoln didn't have a public inauguration. Instead, he was carefully and secretly brought into the White House, while his court clerk ran out to quickly buy a bible that the new president could use to take his oath.