Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes each inauguration is moving in its own way, but only a few produce moments that are truly memorable.
"It depends upon the person and the occasion to really produce a historic inaugural speech," Goodwin said. "But the ceremony itself ... is a real tribute to the country, that a person who was the president can go out and become a private citizen (while) a new private citizen is becoming the president."
"It's peaceful," she says, and "that's an extraordinary thing in the history of our world."
Here are 10 inaugural moments that Goodwin said have stood the test of time:
2009: Obama makes history
There was a magic to the inaugural day for President Barack Obama. ... (It was) as if the whole history of our country was coming full circle -- the ending of slavery and now the first African-American president. So the crowds were reveling in that spirit -- 1.8 million (people), more than had ever been there before.
Just the idea that we had come this far as a nation. There was a sense of unity and a sense of pride, I think, in our country that this was finally happening.
1981: Reagan's optimistic first inaugural speech
What was so impressive about Ronald Reagan's inaugural speech, I think, was the optimism that it suggested after a period when America was feeling like we might have been in decline. Even though he had the exact opposite message as Franklin Roosevelt, where he was talking about government as the problem rather than the solution, both Reagan and FDR shared that American sense that we can do things.
In a certain sense, the optimism of the speech was symbolized by (Reagan's) transferring the inaugural to the West Front of the Capitol, which made a much grander spectacle.
More people could watch it, so it was a big occasion.
1977: Carter's long walk
Jimmy Carter made the decision evidently just three weeks before the inauguration that he would walk after his inauguration back to the White House. And it really was an extraordinary moment. ... There was a feeling with Carter that he was being a people's president, as opposed to the imperial guard that had surrounded Nixon. And so he's walking, (and first daughter) Amy is running around next to him. There's a sense of exuberance, and a sense that something special is happening.
1961: JFK's stirring address
What is so memorable about John F. Kennedy saying that the torch is being passed to a new generation is that he himself represented a new generation. (He was) 22 years younger than Dwight Eisenhower, and what the speech promised was action, movement, (and) a new energy coming into the government and into the country.
When we think of those famous words -- "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the country" -- it was followed up by thousands of people wanting to join the Peace Corps, and the Civil Rights movement was already out there. There was a sense of working on poverty, so the words projected action, and that's what makes them memorable.
What always strikes me about JFK's inaugural (address), however, is that he said in the course of it ... that all this would not be accomplished in 1,000 days, meaning the programs that he had outlined. Originally in the draft of it, he had said all of this would not be accomplished in 100 days, but he slashed it out because he did not want to be compared to FDR's 100 days. But little would he ever imagine that 1,000 days would mark the end of his life, and that that would be his presidency.
1945: FDR's abbreviated wartime ceremony
Roosevelt decided in 1945, when the war was still ongoing, to dispense with the traditional parade. Who is there to parade, he said, and so he made it a very simple ceremony (at the White House).
He himself was suffering from heart failure at that time, so it was a five-minute speech and he needed to fortify himself with whiskey in order to get through the pain that he was feeling. So sadly, the physical state of FDR matched the mood at that time.
1933: FDR's dramatic first inaugural speech
We all remember the phrase "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," but even more important than the phrase was the attitude that FDR had. He projected optimism, he projected forward movement, and people felt -- that's the mystery of leadership -- that somehow the (Great) Depression they were suffering (through), they weren't going to be in it alone anymore. ... They had a leader who was going to take care of it.
Hoover, however, was very upset during the transition about what FDR did not do. He was hoping some action would be taking place while he was still president, but FDR wanted to wait (and) have a clean slate while he was president. ... Hoover was very angry about that, and there was lots of tension between the two.
1905: TR's eclectic parade
What's interesting about Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade is that it symbolized the many-sided character that TR was.