America celebrates the 57th Presidential Inauguration today, Jan. 21, at noon -- a day later than the U.S. Constitution requires.
But the very public ceremony has been held a day late two times before, and President Barack Obama was to be sworn in for his second term by noon on Sunday, Jan. 20, in a private ceremony to meet the constitutional mandate.
So, expect all the public pomp and circumstance today that corporations and well-heeled individual donors are paying for for this quadrennial celebration. Here are some questions and answers about today’s event.
Q. Where does the swearing-in take place?
A. The west front of the U.S. Capitol.
Q. Is there a theme for this inauguration?
A. Yes, “Faith in America’s Future."
Q. How many people are expected to attend?
A. Between 600,000 and 800,000 – quite a few less than the record 1.8 million that attended President Obama’s first inauguration four years ago.
Q. How strong will be security?
More than 6,900 police officers from 40 states, 6,000 Army and Air National Guard members from 26 states, and 45 dogs will be keeping an eye on things, especially when the President and First Lady leave the limousine that will carry them down Pennsylvania Avenue during the Inaugural Parade.
Q. What is being prohibited in the official ticketed area of the inaugural?
A. Some things are obvious, like firearms, explosives and fireworks, knives and other sharp objects, mace and pepper spray, packages, backpacks, large bags, thermoses and coolers, strollers, umbrellas, laser pointers, signs or posters, animals, alcoholic beverages, glass containers, air horns and other items seen as a threat to security.
Q. Who will speak besides the President?
A. Two members of the Joint Presidential Inaugural Committee, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the chairman, and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Myrlie Ever-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, will give the invocation to begin the ceremony. The Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House, will give the benediction.
Q. Who will administer the oaths of office?
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will administer the oath of office to the president. Justice Sonya M. Sotomayor will administer the oath of office to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Q. Who will sing?
A. Rock star Beyonce Knowles will sing the national anthem. Singer-songwriter James Taylor and pop singer Kelly Clarkson also will perform.
Q. What can we expect to see in the parade?
A. Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so the parade will feature floats linking President Obama, America’s first African-American president, and the holiday honoring America’s most famous Civil Rights leader. But there will be participants from every state who will march the 15 blocks from the Capitol to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, including the Portsmouth High School Marching Band to represent Rhode Island.
Q. Do you need a ticket to attend the inauguration?
A. There is a ticketed area. But many areas along the National Mall do not require a ticket, and massive TV monitors will broadcast the ceremony.
Q. How many inaugural balls are scheduled for this evening?
A. Two “official” balls will be held: the Inaugural Ball and the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball. The President and the First Lady will attend both in the Washington Convention Center. But there are many other unofficial balls and events spread all around Washington D.C.