By: Sen. Roy Blunt
Published by The Hill
On Jan. 20, 2021, the country and the world will witness the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies at the United States Capitol. Since George Washington took the oath of office to become our nation’s first president in 1789, every four years, we have carried out the tradition of an inaugural ceremony to mark the commencement of a new four-year term for the president of the United States, or to transition into a new administration.
Washington firmly believed the inauguration of the second president would be more important than the first. And as important as that transition of power was, it was the transition between our second and third presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, that was perhaps the most consequential. For the first time, the people handed over the reins of government to a president who had a dramatically different view of what the government could and should do — the first peaceful transition of power.
The inaugural events are not only a hallmark of American governance and democracy — but also fulfill our Constitutional duty and give assurance — for all people — of our continued and unbroken commitment to continuity, stability, perseverance and democracy. This great American tradition has occurred in times of peace, in times of turmoil, in times of prosperity, and in times of adversity.
Since 1901, and in accordance with the 20th Amendment of the Constitution, the responsibility for the planning and execution of the inaugural ceremonies of the president-elect and vice president-elect has been given to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. It is a privilege to be serving as the chairman of the Inaugural Committee for a second time.
The Inaugural Committee is a bipartisan, bicameral committee that’s membership consists of Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Regardless of the outcome of the election, we are committed to ensuring the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies are carried out in a manner that is as tradition, safe, and inclusive as possible.
The theme for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies is “Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union.”
Our Founders had the wisdom and foresight to know that this young nation would face great challenges in the years ahead. They understood that our country was not perfect and the Constitution established the realistic goal for a determined democracy to make it better. The Constitution serves as a blueprint for our nation’s collective determination to form, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.
There is an innate messiness that accompanies democracy. Our unfinished story is comprised of imperfect people and even more imperfect chapters. But let’s not forget — we are also a nation of heroes and trailblazers. Whether we look to the lives of Frederick Douglass, Katherine Johnson, Amelia Earhart — or countless other pioneers—we are a nation that believes in unbounded potential and the equality of all people.
So, when the country and the world gather — whether it be at the Capitol or in front of a television — we will witness an event that has become both commonplace and miraculous. It is our best traditions — like an inaugural ceremony — that are essential in our pursuit of a more perfect union and a brighter future for all Americans.
Blunt is the senior senator from Missouri and chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.