2009 Presidential Inauguration: All You Need To Know

02/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is shaping up to be an enormous affair, with millions of people flooding Washington D.C. to take part in this historic occasion. Below we've compiled information from all over so that you're armed with all you need to know about the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.

For some background on presidential inaugurations in the U.S., we turn to Wikipedia:

The swearing-in of the President of the United States occurs upon the commencement of a new term of a President of the United States. The United States Constitution mandates that the President make the following oath or affirmation before he or she can "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The swearing-in traditionally takes place at noon on Inauguration Day at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., with the Chief Justice of the United States administering the oath.


The inauguration for the first U.S. president, George Washington, was held on April 30, 1789 in New York City. Inauguration Day was originally set for March 4, giving electors from each state nearly four months after Election Day to cast their ballots for president. In 1937, the day of inauguration was changed by the Twentieth Amendment from March 4 to noon on January 20, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term in 1937. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C., which did not officially become the federal capital until that year.[1] The next Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, will fall on the 3rd Tuesday of January.

Visit the website of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the legal entity which raises and distributes funds for inauguration events.

The theme for Obama's inauguration is "Renewing America's Pomise." The official inauguration schedule for the Committee can be found here, although it is still a preliminary list. Monday, January 19th, the day before Inauguration Day, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and citizens across the country will engage in community service projects to commemorate Dr. King's legacy.

Tuesday, January 20th, is the day when Obama will be sworn in. Here is a rundown from the preliminary schedule of the official ceremonies:

• Musical Selections: The United States Marine Band, followed by The San

Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus
• Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein
• Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren
• Musical Selection: Aretha Franklin
• Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will be sworn into office by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honorable John Paul Stevens
• Musical Selection: John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet)
• President-elect Barack H. Obama will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln's Inaugural Bible, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, the Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.
• Inaugural Address
• Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
• Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
• The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

After President Obama gives his Inaugural Address, he will escort outgoing President George W. Bush to a departure ceremony before attending a luncheon in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. The 56th Inaugural Parade will then make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House with groups traveling from all over the country to participate.

Obama is planning on attending around ten inaugural balls that night, and the Inaugural Committee will release details about that at a later date.

For a comprehensive list of events of inauguration events, About.com has a good list which can be found here. Another good reference can be found at Presidential-Inauguration.com, which bills itself as the unofficial guide to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.

The Washington Post has an inauguration blog that keeps track of the latest inauguration news, including updates on events.

If you're lucky enough to be in D.C. for the inauguration, one event which doesn't require a ticket (except for some prime spots) is the Inaugural Parade. It proceeds through the 15 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol building and the White House. It typically lasts two to three hours. Check out a map of the parade route here.

Attending the inauguration ceremony requires tickets, but millions of people will gather in the National Mall to watch Obama sworn on giant TV screens.

Although the Inaugural Committee hasn't confirmed this, sources are telling the Washington Post that Bruce Springsteen will perform at the inaugural welcome event. Springsteen, who has long been a strong Obama supporter, will perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the event is free for the public. An extra incentive to get to D.C. early.

To buy tickets to various events during the inauguration festivities, visit InauguralTickets.com, especially if you're buying last minute. Another good site to buy tickets is GreatSeats.com.

If you're a bit overwhelmed by all the hoopla, TIME offers a helpful "How-To" guide for enjoying and surviving the inauguration, with information on travel, nightlife and accommodations.

If you can't make it to D.C., but have HBO, then you'll get 90 minutes of commercial-free coverage of the inauguration welcoming event, the one at which Bruce Springsteen is performing:

The inauguration tapped HBO to televise 90-minutes of commercial-free footage of the "Opening Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, Jan. 18. The event, which both President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden plan to attend is designed to give Americans across the country access to one of the main inaugural events.

The HBO deal will make the celebration accessible on an open signal, which means anyone with cable or satellite service will be able to view the festivities for free. But the exclusive arrangement could leave out millions of Americans who are not cable or satellite subscribers.

An HBO executive says they're hoping to stream the event live online for those who don't have the cable channel.

Weather-wise, we advise you to dress warmly because it can get cold in D.C. in January, and even though there's a chance of rain, leave the umbrella at home because the Secret Service is not allowing them no matter how terrible the weather.

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