On January 20, 2017 Donald J Trump became the 45th president of the United States. According to his team, the inauguration was a “yuge” success, perhaps the greatest, in the history of inaugurations. In honor of that sentiment we took a trip down memory lane to discover other memorable moments. Here is a collection of the top five for your consideration.
1. Barack Obama
In 2009, Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American president to ever hold office. His inauguration drew a record crowd of an astounding 1.8 million. The occasion brought in the highest number of people for any event ever held in Washington D.C. Attendance was so high that for the first time in history the presidential inaugural committee actually opened the National Mall to the public so everyone could witness the swearing in ceremony.
2. John F. Kennedy
JFK was sworn in to office on January 20, 1961. Due to the heavy snowfall, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts nearly had to cancel the inauguration, but in the end, decided to go forward. JFK’s message, which resonated with almost all Americans, was one of peace and unity. The powerful words in his inaugural address are perhaps some of the most important in inaugural history. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
3. Ronald Reagan
In 1981, the world watched as the actor turned politician, was sworn in as the 40th President of the United States. This marked the first time that the inauguration ceremony was held on the terrace of the West Front of the Capitol. Reagan stressed the importance of our economy in his inauguration speech and left everyone with a message that his administration’s objective would be growing that economy. His mission was to provide an equal opportunity for all Americans, “with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination.”
4. Richard Nixon
Although Richard Milhous Nixon parted ways with America under the dark cloud of the scandal that was Watergate, his inaugural address in 1969 was actually one filled with inspiration and hope for the future. He asked the people of the country to come together. He spoke of the essence of freedom and about shaping our own destiny. Nixon’s message was about looking forward to what kind of nation we would be. In his speech, he ironically stated, “It [the nation] is to be determined by our actions and our choices.” I wonder if he knew how true those words would be.
5. Franklin D. Roosevelt
The former governor of New York was sworn into office on March 4, 1933. This marks the last time in history that the Presidential inauguration would ever be held on that date. FDR’s term began during The Great Depression; he addressed the nation by radio and announced his plans for a New Deal. His speech was heard by millions of Americans and prepared the country for the massive changes he was about to undertake. It was in this moment when we first heard the words, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
That is a message we should still carry with us today.