President Barack Obama

Boost your Child's Inaugural IQ

On January 21, 2013, President Barack H. Obama will be inaugurated in Washington, DC. As you prepare to view this historic event with your children, share these 10 exciting facts about inaugural ceremonies, past and present.

Do you know where the first presidential inauguration took place? How about which inauguration was first televised? Learn a thing or two as you share these 10 kid-friendly facts with your kids in preparation for President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony on January 21, 2013.


Presidential inaugurations have a theme

Four years ago, President Obama’s first inauguration was themed ”A New Birth of Freedom,” which is a line from the Gettysburg Address. This year, in 2013, the theme is “Faith in America’s Future.”


The inaugural platform is built from scratch

For each inauguration, the platform, which holds more than 1,600 people during the ceremony, including the President of the United States, is built from scratch. According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the platform will be more than 10,000 square feet. Only the 2005 platform has been this big.


The first presidential inauguration wasn’t in Washington, DC

When the very first president, George Washington, was inaugurated, it didn’t take place in Washington, DC. In 1789, New York City was the U.S. capital. George Washington carried a sword during his ceremony.


It wasn’t always on TV

Before television broadcasts, Americans only had the option to travel to the location of the presidential inauguration if they wanted to watch the ceremony. In 1949, Harry S. Truman was the first president to have an inauguration broadcast on TV.


The weather doesn’t always cooperate

The weather isn’t always pleasant for a presidential inauguration. In 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was sworn in, it was only 16 degrees at noon. William H. Taft’s Presidential Inauguration took place indoors because of a massive blizzard. During Ronald W. Reagan’s Inauguration, it was 7 degrees.


The process begins with the First Nail Ceremony

Long before the inaugural ceremonies, the First Nail Ceremony marks the beginning of the long process of building the huge platform. This year, it took place on September 20, 2012. Members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies hammered nails into a plank.


The Bibles used are a big deal

During the presidential inauguration, the president is sworn in on a Bible. The Bibles are often heirlooms. The Bible may be open or closed, and different presidents have opened the Bible to different pages. Ronald W. Reagan used a family Bible given to him by his mother. President Obama used the same Bible Abraham Lincoln used at his presidential inauguration.


The presidential inauguration is an all-day event

There are lots of events throughout the day during the inaugural ceremonies. These include the procession to the Capitol, the vice president’s swearing-in ceremony, the Inaugural Address, the Inaugural Parade and the Inaugural Ball.


President Barack H. Obama’s first Inaugural Ceremony involved many firsts

On January 20, 2009, President Obama’s inauguration was the largest inauguration attendance in U.S. history. It was also the largest attendance of any event in Washington DC’s history. He was the first African-American to hold the office of President of the United States, and the first Hawaiian-born citizen.


This is only the seventh time the presidential inauguration has fallen on a Sunday

Presidents have been sworn into office 69 times, but this is the 57th presidential inauguration. President Obama will be sworn in privately on January 20th, the constitutionally-mandated date for presidential inauguration. Because this falls on a Sunday, the public ceremony will be held on Monday, January 21.

Image credit: DJDM/

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Comments on "10 Facts to share with your kids about the presidential inauguration"

Dick January 26, 2013 | 9:51 PM

Be sure to tell them that the man sworn in has spent them and their Grandchildren so far into debt that they will always be in debt.

Mary January 22, 2013 | 2:32 PM

Outstanding! Our children know and appreciate far too little about the rich tradition behind the inaugural ceremonies.

Maureen January 21, 2013 | 7:32 PM

Love these facts! Also love Ron's additional point... Today's ceremonies were filled with reminders that one of the reasons are country is so great is how we respectfully transfer or affirm power. No coup. No mob. Sure, the Republicans still disagree with the Democrats, but the ceremony's sustainability is symbolic of our never-ending pledge to democracy.

Ron January 21, 2013 | 1:02 PM

You forgot the most important lesson of all, the Inauguration is the peaceful exchange or affirmation of power. That we can vehemently disagree with one another and show division on Election Day, we come back together to renew the terms of office and move forward as one nation.

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