Inaugural speeeches and internet
Engaging students after a three-day weekend is easier when you reference the recent inaugural events as history in the making. Opening the social science book isn’t as fun as media-rich interactive lessons. Visiting www.constitutioncenter.org allows the class to view the Constitution Hall Pass video called “The Presidency” that traces the history of American presidents explaining the importance of the executive branch.
The peaceful transfer of power in all its pageantry was on display at the Swearing-in Ceremony for the second term of Barack Obama. Afterwards, the Inaugural Address was given. Speech writers of the past have said that the intention of this speech is to convey the kind of leadership that makes us as a nation want to follow.
Typically the speech talks about the hopes the president has for the coming term of office often blending poetry, philosophy and policy. As the 44th president, Obama, like his predecessors, hoped to articulate a vision in memorable fashion, but few have the timeless quality that inspires generations to come.
Franklin Roosevelt is known for his famous quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Presidential inaugurations used to be in March, because when our country first began the four-month delay between election and inauguration was needed for the newly elected candidates to assemble their cabinet and make plans for their government.
When Washington left Mount Vernon heading to his inauguration in the temporary capital in New York, it took seven days on horseback. He arrived at his inauguration festivities amidst cheering crowds who had honored their new president with parades in the major cities along the way.
With all the modern advancements of cars, phones and the Internet, the transition has become more efficient, and in 1933 the date got moved to Jan. 20 when Congress ratified the 20th Amendment.
Since the Constitution now says that a president’s new term begins at noon on Jan. 20, Obama had a private swearing-in at the White House on Sunday. The pomp and circumstance of the public presidential inauguration followed yesterday.
While students probably didn’t spent their day off watching the events, doing so at school can be a fun departure from the regular classwork. The inauguration for another president from the past fell on a Sunday and he choose not to get sworn in.
Find out what happened when Zachary Taylor didn’t take the oath of office on time by going to www.scholastic.com and selecting the “Research Tools” tab in the “Article Archives” on “U.S. Presidents.” You’ll find a treasure trove of fascinating tidbits for the students to click and discover. Select “President for a Day” and you’ll know the rest of the story.
There, too, you’ll find an interactive activity for the whiteboard “If You Were a President,” which prompts users to balance the budget and justify decisions to reporters. Type in “Inauguration Timeline” and students can click on dates to reveal historical and presidential events.
At www.chicagonow.com in the presidential inauguration section for kids, they pose eight questions, one for each year Obama was elected to be president. For example, who gave the longest inaugural address? Need a clue? He spoke for an hour and 40 minutes in the bitter cold and a month later he died from pneumonia.
View the traditions and pageantry on the big screen of the whiteboard. At www.timeforkids.com watch the interview with a White House correspondent as he answers questions about what it’s like to fly on Air Force One with the president.
U.S. History comes to life for students when they get to watch events such as yesterday’s inauguration, especially when it’s set in the wider context of its importance for the balance of powers between the three branches that make up our government.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.