Construction began today on the platform on the steps of the U.S. Capitol where either Gov. Mitt Romney or President Obama will take the oath of office in January .
Bipartisan leaders from the House and the Senate marked the occasion by ceremonially hammering in the first nails to the stage which will host the next president's inauguration on January 21, 2013.
The inaugural platform, which will be erected on the West Front of the Capitol Building, will seat about 1,600 people including former presidents, members of Congress, cabinet officials, joint chiefs and diplomats who look on as a candidate turns into a president while taking the oath.
"This event reminds us that free elections matter and that it is possible to transfer power peacefully every four years," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies said today.
The leaders were each armed with a hammer and given one nail to hammer into the wood which will make up part of the platform.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, D-Ohio, at first jokingly aimed his hammer at Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Pelosi later had a little trouble hammering in her nail. After numerous whacks of the hammer her stubborn nail did not make it all the way into the wood. Boehner picked up the hammer and with one whack drove the nail all the way into the wood, causing laughter among the leaders.
The West Front of the U.S. Capitol will be closed to visitors from now until Inauguration Day while construction is completed.