Presidential Inauguration Online Junior Ranger Book

Welcome to the United States of America's 59th presidential inauguration. We're glad you've come to join us! A full schedule of events and ways to participate are made available on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's website.

South view of the White House framed by trees.

NPS Photo

The inauguration of a new president is an important part of American democracy. People vote for the country’s leader and the new president takes over from the current president in a peaceful transfer of power.

The National Park Service preserves public spaces, including the history of presidents and past inaugurations.

Complete these games and activities to the best of your ability to become a Presidential Inauguration Junior Ranger and earn your certificate and badge!

Come on in, let's get started!

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What is an Inauguration?

The Capitol building on a sunny day, the white dome bright in a blue sky. Blooming cherry trees are in the foreground

Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith

An inauguration is a ceremony that marks the beginning of a person's service in a role.

Inauguration Day marks the inauguration of the next president and vice president.

In the United States, elections take place every four years. Inauguration Day occurs on January 20 (or January 21 if January 20 falls on a Sunday).

The inauguration can take place anywhere. It usually occurs at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

George Washington standing in a crowded room in a grayscale rendering George Washington standing in a crowded room in a grayscale rendering

Left image
George Washington

Right image
Library of Congress

The first presidential inauguration in the United States was President George Washington's. On April 30th, 1789, George Washington stood on a balcony of the Federal Hall in New York and took the oath of office. 

Over time, some inauguration traditions have stayed the same, while others have grown and changed. Let's explore how! 

Can You Imagine?

A coloring page with a park ranger in uniform and a child in junior ranger clothing. Text encourages you to think about what you would look like as a park ranger

NPS/Sierra Moeykens

Imagine yourself as a Junior Ranger—you will be at the end of this story! Everyone is welcome to be a Junior Ranger in the National Park Service.

What would you look like as a Junior Ranger?

What would you look like as a National Park Service Ranger? You can save this image, color it in, and write your name in the name bar!

Now, stretch your imagination a little further.

Can you see yourself as the President of the United States? This is our democracy! What would happen during your inauguration? Let's find out!

The image is a coloring activity of a park ranger and Junior Ranger standing next to each other in uniforms.

Text on the image reads "Junior Ranger. Color yourself as a Junior Ranger holding something cool! Add badges to the Junior Ranger Vest! Write something in the hat bands and name tag! What would you look like as a Park Ranger?"

The park ranger is standing on the left side of the image in a uniform includes a hat with a prominent flat brim. The uniform also has a button-up, short-sleeve shirt with two pockets. A ranger badge is pinned above the rightside pocket. The ranger is also wearing pants with a belt.

The Junior Ranger is standing on the right side of the image in a uniform that includes a hat with a prominent flat brim. The uniform also has a zipped vest over a short-sleeve shirt. The Junior Ranger is also wearing short and boots.

Presidents of the United States


In order to be elected president, a person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years old, and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.

Could you be elected president?

Who has been the president of the United States? Explore the following gallery from the Library of Congress.

Can you find all the presidents in the portrait gallery who have memorials in Washington DC? Use the map to explore!

Why is the 59th Inauguration Historic?

Senator Kamala Harris stands smiling in front of a backdrop of flags

US Senate Portrait

The election of 2020 broke historic barriers.

Kamala Harris is the first woman to be elected vice president. She is also the first Black woman and the first Asian American woman to be elected vice president.

In a speech, Vice President-Elect Harris spoke of her mother:

“When she came here from India at the age of 19, maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic

A empty playground with a slide on a sunny day A empty playground with a slide on a sunny day

Left image
Credit: NPS Photo

Right image
Credit: NPS Photo

What changes have you experienced this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

It has impacted all of us! Many of you have experienced changes in school, activities, and your expected traditions.

Let's look at the inauguration traditions to see what is different and what is the same.

Inauguration Traditions

Bleachers set up on a city street

NPS Photo

Traditions


The Swearing-In Ceremony is the only event that, by law, must occur on Inauguration Day.

Some traditions, like giving an inaugural address, have almost always taken place. Other traditions have changed a lot over time! Let's explore the usual order of events for recent inaugurations.

Theodore Roosevelt in carriage on Pennsylvania Avenue on way to Capitol, March 4, 1905

Library of Congress

Procession to the Capitol


The day usually begins with a procession to the Capitol.

Historically, presidents have taken carriages (like Theodore Roosevelt in the picture here), ridden on horseback, and walked! In modern times, they travel in an automobile.

Not every inauguration has taken place at the Capitol—in fact, the first two weren't even in Washington D.C.! Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington D.C. in 1801.

A grayscale drawing of the vice-presidential swearing in ceremony. A man stands with his hand raised taking the oath before a crowded room

Library of Congress

Swearing-In Ceremony: Vice President


The vice president-elect is sworn into office first.

Pictured here is the swearing in of Henry Wilson as vice president.

This was 1873 and Ulysses S. Grant was the president-elect for his second term.

A crowd gathered at the end of a long table in a room. A man has his hand on a book during the presidential swearing-in ceremony

NPS Photo

Swearing-In Ceremony: President


Around noon, the president-elect recites the following oath in accordance with Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt stands at a high balcony giving an inaugural address

NPS Photo

The Inaugural Address


Every elected president has given a speech during their inauguration.

President George Washington’s gave the shortest inaugural address during his second inauguration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—only 136 words!

William Henry Harrison gave the longest address—8,445 words!

A color guard walks carrying flags down a city street lined with observers

NPS Photo

Pass in Review & Parade

The president and their family usually attend the parade in the presidential reviewing stand in front of the White House.

Military and citizen groups, bands, and other parade features usually make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Cater dance in a ballroom crowd

Library of Congress

Inaugural Ball


An inaugural ball often takes place during the evening after the inauguration. The inaugural ball has been canceled or changed in some years for a variety of reasons, including when times were difficult.

Join the Parade!

An American flag flies under a sunny sky

NPS Photo

The 2021 Inauguration


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the inauguration of 2021 is keeping some traditions the same and adpating others to keep people safe. We are all invited to join a fully virtual parade, the "Parade Across America," and a televised event from the National Mall in the evening. Join viewers around the world watching the inauguration January 20, 2021. We are gathering in spirit for the Virutal Parade Across America and other virtual and televised events to mark this occasion in these historic times. We'll be joining the virtual parade and events with you!

Explore the Inauguration Junior Ranger Activities

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    Congratulations!

    Gallery of images showing junior rangers being sworn in. On the right is a person wearing a soft brimmed hat lined with junior ranger pins

    NPS Photos

    Thank you for joining us! We've enjoyed exploring the inauguration, history, traditions, and presidential memorials with you. We hope you had a lot of fun and learned interesting things!

    The only thing left to do is to take the Junior Ranger Pledge. Are you ready?

    Raise your right hand and read aloud:

    "As a Junior Ranger, I promise to teach others about what I learned today, explore other parks and historic places, and help preserve and protect these places so future generations can enjoy them."

    Congratulations, Junior Ranger! Scroll down for your certificate and virtual badge. You can save, print, or even set your badge as your phone or computer background!

    A certificate on a white background is topped with an American flag. On the left is the Presidential Seal in gold; on the left is the National Park Service logo. In the middle blue text reads: "Junior Ranger - Congratulations to [name] who has successfully completed the requirements and has explored, learned, and protected the national parks that host the presidential inauguration."

    Last updated: February 12, 2021