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Culture Lesson: Presidential Inauguration

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Obama-mania hit America as Barak Obama officially became the 44th president of the USA at his inauguration.

An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of something such as a president's term of office and a ceremony in which the president officially takes the 'oath of office' (A promise made by a new president to do his duty correctly to the best of his ability). For the oath the president always says "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 inauguration for the first U.S. president, George Washington, was held on April 30, 1789, in New York City.

An "inaugural address" is the speech that the President made in front of the 2 million crowd and the other millions watching from around the world. Inaugural speeches tend to be quick business — 15 to 20 minutes, give or take a few — and Barack Obama's fell in that range Tuesday. The shortest ever lasted several minutes. George Washington took fewer than 150 words to say all he wanted to say at his second inauguration in 1793.

Inaugurations are usually lavish events and this one was no exception. Attended by Hollywood stars (Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks) and big name musicians (Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder), the cost of the event was estimated to be $150 million!

As you would expect, the security for the inaugural celebrations is a complex matter, involving not only the Secret Service, but other Federal law enforcement agencies. In fact, around 40,000 security personnel were either on duty or stand-by in the city.

After the inauguration the new president was far from finished – he still had to attend ten official balls held in his honour! He finally got back to his new home, the White House, at 7:30am the next morning!

Now match the words in bold to their definitions below.

Link: Culture Lesson  'American Thanksgiving'

  • Large formal parties where people dance:
  • A formal act, often fixed and traditional, performed on an important social occasion:
  • More than enough, especially if expensive; very generous:
  • A promise:
  • The people who are employed in a company or organisation:
  • Involving a lot of different but related parts: