You may have noticed that our front page for today, Jan. 20, 2021 - Inauguration Day - has a different look than other weeks of the year.

“We the People” is a Forum Communications company-wide project. All newspapers owned by Forum Communications sport the same look on their front pages today, but the people featured are different.

The goal of this project was to connect our communities and highlight our similarities rather than our differences. To that end, each of us reporters in the Echo Journal newsroom found two to three people each in the communities we cover and we asked them two questions:

  • What is your hope for the future of this country?

  • How can you yourself contribute to that future?

We share their responses on pages 1 and 2.

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Now, on a day when we put a new president in office, do me a favor and consider how you would answer those two questions.

It’s not necessarily all about politics; rather, it’s about our country.

One of my hopes is that no violence occurs anywhere during today’s historic event. My greatest hope is that our country will unify in 2021. We know America won’t return to any kind of “normal” Thursday, Jan. 21, just because a new president is in charge. But let’s hope and pray that events like the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 don’t happen again in our lifetime.

Honestly - this is America?

We have 25,000 National Guard troops (more than the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria combined) stationed in Washington, D.C. Those troops are all being vetted to ensure none are tied to concerns about inside attacks or other threats.

Barricades and tall, nonscalable fences topped with wire are installed outside the U.S. Capitol building. Plans were to close the National Mall to the public for security reasons during the presidential inauguration. There will be no traditional inaugural parade past the White House, but rather a televised virtual parade.

This is America?

And it’s all happening amidst a deadly pandemic, which is another reason for limited Inauguration Day events and people. It’s so surreal and unbelievable.

I hope that in four years, thousands of people again fill the National Mall with no fear of violence to celebrate the next president as a unified country.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I don’t recall ever watching a presidential inauguration, until 2017. I’m not sure why I was home from work that day, but I distinctly remember sitting on the couch all day watching the inauguration festivities. I was fascinated.

This year, I’ll be watching again, having made plans to be with my mom, and hoping it’s a start toward a more unified United States.

Delving into the history of the presidential inauguration, here are some quick facts I found quite interesting:

  • Inauguration Day has been held every four years on Jan. 20 since 1937. When Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday, Inauguration Day is moved to Monday, Jan. 21.

  • The president’s and vice president’s terms end at noon Jan. 20 the year after an election.

  • Joe Biden will be sworn in as our 46th president at the United States’ 59th presidential inauguration.

  • The outgoing president has skipped the incoming president’s swearing-on only three times in U.S. history: Andrew Johnson in 1869, John Quincy Adams in 1829 and John Adams in 1801.

  • A new president’s inaugural address is considered a milestone speech, along with the annual State of the Union address.

  • The Constitution details a 35-word oath for the new president. “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." Some presidents make it 39 words by adding “so help me God.”

  • The Supreme Court chief justice administers the oath of office for the president. A variety of different officials have administered the oath for the vice president.

  • Jimmy Carter was the first president to walk from the Capitol to the White House in the post-ceremony parade.

  • Theodore Roosevelt did not use the Bible when taking the oath in 1901.

  • William Henry Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address at 8,445 words.

  • George Washington gave the shortest inaugural address at 135 words.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.