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.
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!
What is an Inauguration?
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.
Library of Congress
Can You Imagine?
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!
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?
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
Credit: NPS Photo
Credit: NPS Photo
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
More for Kids!
Last updated: February 12, 2021