13 Things That Must Happen When a President Dies

13 Things That Must Happen When a President Dies

From which person takes the oath of office to the exact speed of the funeral procession, these are the traditions that are followed when a sitting or former U.S. president dies.

The vice president must take the oath of office

lyndon b johnson oath of officeUnderwood Archives/Shutterstock

When a sitting president unexpectedly dies, passing presidential power to the vice president is "the most urgent task to be accomplished," according to Mike Purdy, a presidential historian and author of 101 Presidential Insults. "While the vice president automatically becomes president upon the death of the president, [taking the oath of office] telegraphs to the nation and world the official recognition that there is a new president," Purdy says. If the VP cannot take the oath, the Presidential Succession Act calls for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, followed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, to become president instead. No need to be red-faced, we've got the answers to 15 questions about the American political system you've been too embarrassed to ask.

The president's casket lies in state

Kennedy Casket in stateUncredited/AP/Shutterstock

It has become customary for a sitting or former president's casket to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda for several days, allowing the public to stop by and pay their respects, Purdy says. This is especially true for presidents who were once members of Congress, such as President Ford, who served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Only presidents who have passed away while in office have laid in the White House for viewing, according to the Associated Press. Franklin Roosevelt, William H. Harrison, and Zachary Taylor all laid in state in the White House's East Room, and the latter two were even honored with a funeral ceremony there.

Flags fly at half-staff, and federal buildings close

half staff flagsDoug Mills/AP/Shutterstock

Per federal law, all government buildings, public schools, offices, and military bases must lower their flags to half-staff when a U.S. president dies, according to Purdy. The sitting president is also expected to issue an official announcement of the death, as well as authorize the closure of federal buildings, agencies, and departments to observe a national day of mourning. Yet despite being the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, no U.S. president is allowed to do these surprising, everyday things while in office.

13 Things That Must Happen When a President Dies, Source:https://www.rd.com/culture/things-that-happen-when-president-dies/

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