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Presidential inaugurals: Pomp, pageantry and the unpredictable

The inauguration of President Barack Obama at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21 is the 57th such ceremony in U.S. history.

Jan. 21, 2013: The inauguration of President Barack Obama. Jan. 20 is the traditional day to take the oath, but it fell on a Sunday. Obama joined six other presidents in having the ceremony pushed forward one day to Monday.

The U.S. Capitol is the traditional venue, but it wasn’t always. When George Washington was sworn in, the Capitol building didn’t exist; nor did the city of Washington. Thomas Jefferson was the first president to take the oath at a still-incomplete U.S. Capitol in 1801.

Bad weather forced several ceremonies indoors – most recently Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985.

Unusual swearing-in ceremonies have followed presidential deaths. Lyndon Johnson took the oath aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Click through our photo gallery for more on inaugural ritual. See “What Do Others Say?” for more views, then add to the discussion below. Do you value the pomp and pageantry of modern-day inaugurations?

What do others say?

  • US Senate: U.S. Senate: "57th presidential inauguration" More

  • CNN: CNN: "By the numbers: Presidential inaugurations" More

  • American Presidency Project: University of California Santa Barbara: "The American Presidency Project: Inaugural addresses of the presidents of the United States" More

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