Trump's inauguration: Secret letter, 20 minute speech and three balls
On Friday afternoon (evening in India), Barack Obama will no longer be president of the United States. With thousands of people flowing into Washington to watch as President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th American president, the historic transition will be one to watch.
Here is how the inauguration shall take place and some interesting asides to the grand event.
After breakfast and a church service, President-elect Trump and his wife, Melania, will meet outgoing President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Following tradition, Trump and Obama will ride together down Pennsylvania Avenue to the US Capitol.
The newly elected US president is sworn into office by the Chief Justice of the United States every four years at noon on January 20, as prescribed by the United States Constitution.
The incoming president was historically inaugurated on March 4, but the period of delay was shortened when the 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933.
The oath is part of a ceremony marking the peaceful transition of power on the steps in front of the US Capitol. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will swear in Mike Pence as vice president while Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to Trump. With his left hand on a copy of the Bible used by Abraham Lincoln, Donald Trump will be sworn in. Following his swearing in he will give an address at the west front of the US Capitol before leading a parade to the White House.
The ceremony is then followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. After the ceremony, the Obamas will leave the Capitol to begin their post-White House lives. Trump and Pence stay for lunch. Trump, Pence and their wives will attend three official inaugural balls. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama attended 10 balls when he became president in 2008. And Bill Clinton racked up 14 balls after he became President.
The long and short of it
Trump will give an inaugural address expected to last about 20 minutes. His spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump will give "a very forward-thinking, very inspiring, together-oriented speech" on solving such problems as creating jobs. While 20 minutes may seem short for an inaugural address, it would not be the shortest. George Washington's second inaugural speech in 1793 consisted of about 130 words. Interestingly, prestige of longest inaugural address goes to William Henry Harrison, whose March 4, 1841, speech contained more than 8,440 words and lasted an hour and 45 minutes. Harrison, who gave his speech in a howling snowstorm without a hat or a coat, died of pneumonia a month later.
At some point in the morning, President Obama will leave his successor a letter in the Oval Office desk. Its contents are not divulged to the public. Bush's letter to Obama was addressed, "To #44, from #43." George Bush Sr's wished Bill Clinton well, and it went viral during last year's election campaign. "Your success now is our country's success," Bush wrote. "I am rooting hard for you." Ronald Reagan simply told his former vice-president Bush: "Don't let the turkeys get you down."