President Obama’s second inauguration will be a smaller affair than his first one to reflect the austere economic climate and other current events.
Set to take place on the weekend on January 20-21, the event themed as “Our People. Our Future” will reach a worldwide audience of billions. As such the Presidential Inaugural Committee is planning a — relatively — restrained event that acknowledges what’s happening in America and abroad.
USA Today reports that while attendees and viewers of the 57th inauguration can still expect to see glamour and pomp on the day, organizers are keen to frame the festivities appropriately in light of the national debt, high unemployment, the mass shootings at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School — and the war in Afghanistan.
To that end, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and folk hero James Taylor have been drafted in to add gravitas to the swearing- in ceremony, while a raft of artists including Smokey Robinson, Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Usher, Marc Anthony, Stevie Wonder, and the cast of Glee will add a concert atmosphere to other events on the day.
Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, believes that smaller doesn’t mean the event will be any less significant, adding:
“What we’ve been seeing from the very beginning is a passion and energy for this inaugural because people want to be a part of history. This is is a moment that’s only happened 56 other times.”
By the time inaugural weekend rolls around Washington will be transformed by decorations hanging from the west front of the Capitol — where Obama will take the oath of office — to the Washington Convention Center which is expected to attract 40,000 ball-goers on Monday evening.
The inauguration will also see first family lead an assortment of bands, military formations, horses, floats and marchers from all 50 states — including costumed dancers — in a parade down a locked down Pennsylvania Avenue all the way from the Capitol to the White House.
According to The Washington Post, turnout estimates range from 600,000 to 800,000, compared to the 1.8 million that crowded the National Mall at Obama’s unprecedented inauguration of the first black President in 2009.
Despite the hard times afflicting many Americans, inaugural enthusiasm isn’t waning however. When a limited offer of $60 Inaugural Ball tickets went on sale to the public, they sold out quickly, The Post adds.
Tellingly, one clear example of the scale back can been in the number of balls taking place. This year there will be just two, as opposed to 10 in 2009, but they will be big. 35,000 are expected to attend the larger of the two balls and 4,000 will show up at a ball honoring US troops.
Undeniably, the looming inauguration represents an opportunity for Obama to set his stall, so to speak, on what he intends for his second term. So what can viewer’s expect from Obama’s speech?
“Second inaugurals are often a kind of victory lap speech in a lot of ways, that would go back to Thomas Jefferson in 1805,” said presidential historian Leo Ribuffo of George Washington University.
“Presidents are often reflecting on accomplishments of the administration and the challenges that will continue into the second term.”
Timed three weeks before the impending State of the Union address before Congress and coming after an ugly election, it’s thought that Obama will try to unify the diverse states, interests, and conflicts among Americans in a patriotic love letter to the nation, said The Associated Press.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Obama is clearly mindful of the historical import of 2013. The president will swear the oath of office with two bibles — one owned by President Abraham Lincoln and the other by murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The latter is especially symbolic as the second inauguration comes on the federal holiday marking King’s birthday, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and 50 years since King delivered his iconic “I Had a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
A hive of 550 Presidential Inaugural Committee workers, military teams, and security units are currently working to put the event together. Inauguration costs are reportedly covered by donations and a $1 million contingency from Congress for the swearing-in and security. But tax-payers will bear some of the cost.
The Committee is also setting up a fair on the National Mall to encourage volunteers service and workers in all 50 states are coordinating local programs. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their families will also participate in projects in Washington, USA Today reports.
The First Lady and Biden’s wife, Jill, will also host a concert for America’s children and military families simliar to the one that occurred four years ago.
At noon on Sunday, January 20 — the set time required by the Constitution for the new term to begin — Obama will take his official oath in the White House’s Blue Room with limited media coverage. Meanwhile Biden will be sworn in at the Naval Observatory.
The public ceremony will be held on January 21 as historically inaugurations have not been held on Sundays.