Inauguration 2009 Bits and Pieces

Inauguration 2009 Bits and Pieces

The 2009 Presidential Inauguration is set to be the most well-attended in the tradition's history. The District of Columbia is pouring tens of millions into the event and bars throughout the neighborhood are staying open 24 hours a day. So, aside from involving one of the most popular political figures in America today, what's the draw? Here's a breakdown of what'll be happening during the five-day inaugural period. Whistle-Stop Beginning this Saturday, President-Elect Obama will start a classic whistle-stop tour in Philadelphia. Events will be held at each of the stops, including Philadelphia, Wilmington DE, and Baltimore MD. VP Joe Biden will join Obama's train at the halfway point. Welcome An official Welcome Event will take place on Sunday afternoon at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Unless you know somebody in a very high place, don't expect to get very close to the front. Several million people are expected to attend. The Invocation will be administered by Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly-gay clergyman to be ordained by a major denomination of the Christian faith, and therefore the first to give an inaugural invocation. Charity Day On Monday, it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In honor of King and his legacy, a series of service and outreach events are scheduled to take place. Obama himself will attend one of several bipartisan dinner benefits. Later, a concert to benefit American children through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington is scheduled to feature a variety of star musical acts. Inauguration Day On Tuesday, Barack Obama will be officially sworn-in as the President of the United States, followed by the official inauguration of Joe Biden as Vice President. The event will take place at noon on an unusually crowded West Front. Afterward, there will be a lawmakers lunch at the Capitol building's Saturday Hall. Also, there will be an inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, ending at the White House itself. Throughout the day, there are 10 different inaugural balls planned. Prayer Service At the National Cathedral, Barack Obama and Joe Biden (among others) will attend a prayer service. In a political story full of firsts, Obama has selected Revered Sharon Watkins to give the service's sermon. She will be the first woman to do so in American history. Following the service, the administration of President Barack Obama will officially begin its work. Throughout Obama's campaign and now with his inauguration, it's been fairly obvious that the man knows how popular a figure he is. The immense amount of money and planning that has gone into this very complex, ornate inauguration is reminiscent of when his campaign chose to switch venues for the Democratic Caucus. It's still strange to think of an American political event being treated like such a spectacle by the American public. If the events of this weekend and early next week are any indication, it seems that our country's long-held reputation for political apathy has seen its last days. It's also telling that approximately 60,000 volunteers have signed up to help with the various events around the inauguration. I say it time and again, but it's worth saying at least once more: Obama's true contribution to American politics is his willingness to foster popular support through direct action. If this wildly ambitious celebration goes off without a hitch, it'll be a proof of concept in Obama's service design.