So we come to the end of the Obama years. And later this week Donald Trump will take the oath of office and begin his tenure as President of the United States. For the most part the oath has been taken publicly in or near the Capitol Building in Washington. George Washington and John Adams took the oath in the then capital cities of New York and later Philadelphia. When presidents have died in office, or have been assassinated, the oath has been taken in a variety of places. Andrew Johnson took the oath at the Kirkwood Hotel after Lincoln was shot. Calvin Coolidge was at his father's home in Plymouth Vermont when he repeated the words upon hearing of the death of Harding. And LBJ was in the air, aboard Air Force One, when he raised his right hand after Kennedy's death.
Wherever they took the oath however, they made the same fundamental promises. I looked it up to be sure of the wording. In case you've forgotten here's the oath in full: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the Untied States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." In modern times, presidents have added the words "So help me God," but they are not required by the Constitution.
I don't know how our next president will end the oath; whether or not he'll add the words "So help me God." Surely they should not be required. While we've never had a president who was openly atheistic, we could. We could also have someone who is religious but who understands divinity in a different way. And that's all well and good. But it does seem to me that anyone who serves in that office is wise to call on all the help they can, divine and human. For it is a challenging task--especially the part about preserving, defending and protecting the Constitution.
Indeed, ultimately, it is a task we all must take seriously, and any of us, all of us, who are citizens, would do well to also raise our hands and swear to do what ever is in our power to watch over the Constitution. And when anyone's right to speak is threatened, when anyone's right to assemble is challenged, when anyone's right to worship as they please (or not at all if they so choose) is ignored, each and all of us must speak up and speak out. Regardless of the individual who takes the oath on the steps of the Capitol.