It is a privilege and an honor to attend a presidential inauguration.
Traditionally, governors, senators, congressmen, former presidents and vice presidents, incoming cabinet members, political leaders, and Americans from across the country come to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the oldest peaceful transfer of power in the world.
My wife Callista and I have attended the inaugurations of both Democrats and Republicans, including, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama— and now President Donald Trump.
As a former Speaker of the House, I sit with Callista next to other former speakers, as well as former senate majority leaders and governors who have come to honor the new president of the United States.
As dignitaries gather, the United States Marine Band, creates a festive and patriotic mood. And the band is a piece of history in its own right. Created by an Act of Congress in 1798, the United States Marine Band is the oldest professional music organization in the country. As such, it is also the oldest military band.
The Marine Band first played at the White House for President John Adams in 1801. A few months later, President Thomas Jefferson gave the Marine Band its popular name, "The President's Own." The band played at Jefferson’s 1801 inaugural and has played at every inaugural since for the last 216 years.
It is this sense of being in touch with history that makes the presidential inaugural so powerful.
And President Trump’s inaugural address was equally powerful. It was clear, decisive and impressive – delivered slowly, firmly and with conviction.
He re-enforced his nonnegotiable principles of sending power out of Washington and back into the hands of the American people. And at the same time he called for the country to come together and remember that no matter our backgrounds, “we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.”
It was exactly the message Americans needed to hear.
In the end, the decisiveness of the transfer of power was perfectly captured after the inaugural ceremony when President and Mrs. Trump accompanied former President and Mrs. Obama to the Marine helicopter on the east front of the Capitol to depart.
Normally, this helicopter is called Marine One. However, this designation applies only when the current president is onboard. When the former President and Mrs. Obama boarded the helicopter, it was just another military aircraft. How quickly and completely power is transferred on Inauguration Day – and how quickly our nation’s course shifts in a bold new direction.