((NATIONAL EMBLEM MARCH))The time was January, Nineteen-Eighty-Five. President Ronald Reagan was being inaugurated for a second term. The temperature in Washington D. C. was minus fourteen degrees Celsius. Officials were worried about people standing in the extreme cold. They decided to cancel the inaugural parade and hold the swearing-in ceremony inside.
This week, the Presidential Inauguration Committee is worrying about more than weather. The committee for George W. Bush has had only about half the time that past committees had to organize inaugural events. The election was held November Seventh, but Americans did not know who was elected president until December Thirteenth.Jeanne Johnson Phillips leads the inauguration committee. She planned inaugural events for Mr. Bush when he became governor of Texas. Her team is responsible for the inaugural parade, inaugural dances, and other activities. The events start Thursday with fireworks and entertainment at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. There also are church services, a music program for young people and celebration dinners. Mr. Bush's wife Laura will lead an event honoring American writers.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee cooperates with a joint committee of Congress. That group is supervising the swearing-in ceremony for Mr. Bush and the vice-president-elect, Richard Cheney. A joint military committee, District of Columbia officials and several police forces also help with plans and security for the inauguration.Washington police expect about seven-hundred-fifty-thousand people at the swearing-in ceremony. It will take place outside on the west side of the United States Capitol. Congress makes laws in this large white building on Capitol Hill.
Officials have ordered intense security measures. Demonstrators are expected to protest about a number of social issues at the inauguration.
Civil rights leaders and activists plan to demand voting reforms. They say some African American and other minority voters had problems voting in the November election. Mr. Bush lost the popular vote to his Democratic opponent, outgoing Vice President Al Gore. The president-elect won by gaining the twenty-five electoral votes in Florida. Voting results in that southern state were disputed.
Other protesters are expected to demonstrate about world trade, the right of women to medically end pregnancies, and other issues.
((BRIDGE MUSIC: NATIONAL EMBLEM MARCH))The chief justice of the United States will give the oaths of office to both the new president and vice president at the inaugural ceremonies. The first president of the United States, George Washington, said the presidential promise to the nation in Seventeen-Eighty-Nine. A president has been sworn in every four years since then. Every president has repeated this oath:"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
After being sworn in, Mr. Bush will speak. This speech is called the inaugural address. President Washington started this tradition. All the presidents after him followed his example.
Most new presidents speak about the pressing issues of their times. For example, Abraham Lincoln became America's sixteenth president in Eighteen-Sixty-One. He was sworn in just before the start of the Civil War. He appealed for national unity.John F. Kennedy was America's thirty-fifth president. He took office during severe tensions between the United States and the old Soviet Union. Listen to these words from Mr. Kennedy's Inaugural Address of January Twentieth, Nineteen-Sixty-One.
((TAPE CUT ONE: excerpt from Kennedy inaugural speech))
" Let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved."Historians in the United States say the shortest inaugural speeches have been the most worth remembering. Yet some presidents talk a long time.
William Henry Harrison was the ninth president of the United States. Mr. Harrison spoke for almost two hours at his inaugural in Eighteen-Forty-One. He gave the longest inaugural address in history. The weather was cold and rainy. He developed pneumonia and died one month later.
((BRIDGE MUSIC))President Bush and Vice-President Cheney will remain at the Capitol after being sworn in. They will eat a meal with members of Congress. Then they will leave to watch the inaugural parade. During the parade, soldiers, sailors and Marines will march down streets near the White House. Colorful vehicles will move past the crowd. Bands will play. Thousands of people will watch. Many of them will see the parade from seats built for the event.
That night, George W. Bush and Laura Bush will attend inaugural balls. Eight states and a Texas organization are organizing the nine official dances. Other organizations are also giving parties to honor Mr. Bush.Government officials attend the inaugural balls. So do the president's closest friends and political supporters. An inaugural ball invitation serves as a thank-you to people who have helped pay for the presidential campaign.
About thirty-five thousand people have been invited to the dances this year.
Many guests spend a lot of money to attend inaugural events. This is especially true if they live far from Washington. Visitors to the city pay for transportation, hotels, food and other expenses.
Guests often say they are thrilled to attend a party with America's leaders. But others say the parties are too crowded. They say they cannot dance, or even talk. And many people say they never see the president.
((BRIDGE MUSIC))James Madison was the first to have an inaugural dance. He was sworn in in Eighteen-Oh-Nine. More than four-hundred people attended the dance. It was so hot inside the room that people broke windows to let in cool air.
Heat was not the problem at an inaugural party for President Ulysses S Grant. The temperature on that day in Eighteen-Sixty-Nine was twenty degrees below zero Celsius. The building where the dance was held had no heat. Hundreds of small yellow birds had been brought in to sing for the president. Instead, the birds froze to death and fell on the guests.Andrew Jackson had one of the most unusual inaugurations in American history. He was sworn in as America's seventh president in Eighteen-Twenty-Nine. Mr. Jackson invited the whole country to his party.
Twenty-two thousand people crowded into and around the White House. Some of the guests almost wrecked the president's home.No celebrations were held for presidential inaugurations that took place after a president died or resigned. Lyndon Baines Johnson was the thirty-sixth president of the United States. He took the oath of office in an airplane on the ground in Dallas, Texas. He became president after President Kennedy was murdered there in November, Nineteen-Sixty-Three.
Gerald Ford was sworn in as America's thirty-eighth president in August , Nineteen-Seventy-Four. He took office after President Richard Nixon resigned. Mr. Ford was sworn in during quiet ceremonies in the East Room of the White House.This Saturday, another American president will promise to support the United States Constitution. George W. Bush will be one of the few American presidents who did not win the popular vote. And not since the Eighteen-Hundreds has the son of a president also become president.
Saturday will be a historic day for Mr. Bush -- and once again for the United States.
(( NATIONAL EMBLEM MARCH))This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Shirley Griffith.And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.