As we approach the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, few of my readers will remember the presidential inauguration for President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Tuesday, January 20, 1953. Sixty years ago, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Frederick Vinson administered the oath of office to President Eisenhower. President Eisenhower took his oath on two Bibles: one used by President George Washington at the first presidential inauguration on April 30, 1789, in New York City, and the one General Eisenhower received from his mother upon his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1915. The Washington Bible was opened to II Chronicles 7:14, which reads: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” His West Point Bible was opened to Psalm 33:12, which reads: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”
Following his oath of office, President Eisenhower commenced his inaugural remarks as follows:
My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads:
Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the executive branch of government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng and their fellow citizens everywhere. Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all people regardless of station, race, or calling. May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved county and Thy glory. Amen.
President Obama has indicated that he will also use two Bibles at his second inauguration.