Magnificent inaugural ceremonies mark the peaceful transfer of power.  Inaugurals are a time of hope, of reflection on where our country stands, and of celebration, with special events and a grand parade.  Shortly before noon on January 20, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama swore the oath of office, becoming the 44th President of the United States.  He then sought to inspire the nation with a carefully crafted speech.  The day concluded with a round of stops at glamorous inaugural balls.  


Organization  |  Photos  |  Annotated Schedule
Links: PIC  |  JCCIC  |  AFIC  |  DC Gov't

Organizing the Inaugural Activities
Every four years three committees form to organize the inaugural activities.  The Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC), a joint task force of the five Armed Forces branches, is "charged with coordinating all military ceremonial participation and support" for the presidential inauguration. 
Army Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe Jr. chaired AFIC.  The first personnel started with AFIC at the end of 2007 and the organization launched in June 2008.  As of mid-Dec. 2008 about 400 personnel were working at AFIC and by Inauguration Day this rose to about 700 including full-time (PCS/permanent change of station) and personnel on temporary duty.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) is responsible for all events held at the Capitol.  The JCCIC is a committee consisting of six leaders of the House and Senate established by a congressional resolution (S.Con.Res. 67, approved by Congress in Feb. 2008).  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) chaired the JCCIC, which has a budget of $1,240,000 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 26, 2007).  To honor the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, JCCIC selected the theme of "A New Birth of Freedom" for the 2009 inaugural.

The final piece is the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), charged with organizing events for the 56th Inaugural.  A PIC is formed every four years after the general election and must accomplish most of its work in a period of just two months.  The 2009 PIC was co-chaired by William Daley, Penny Pritzker, John W. Rogers, Jr., Patrick Ryan and Julianna Smoot.  Emmett Beliveau, who served as the campaign's director of advance, was executive director.  Ultimately the PIC employed over 430 people.  As with the Obama campaign, the PIC announced limitations on fundraising; it did not accept contributions from "corporations, political action committees, current federally-registered lobbyists, non-U.S. citizens and registered foreign agents...[and] will not accept individual contributions in excess of $50,000."  In keeping with the theme of transparency, on Dec. 12 the PIC launched a searchable, public database of donors.  The PIC reported net donations totaling $53.2 million.

In addition to the PIC, JCCIC and AFIC, numerous agencies coordinate on security for the events of inaugural week.  Because the Department of Homeland Security has designated the Inaugural as a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the Secret Service is the lead agency.  Fifty eight agencies coordinated planning for the Inaugural since June 2008; they were organized into 23 subcommitees covering such areas as transportation, air space, water way, venues, and health and human services.  It was estimated that the cost to District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia governments for law enforcement, fire and EMS and transportation could exceed $75 million (letter, emergency declaration for DC, federal reimbursement).

A major concern was the number of people that would attend.  Demand for the approximately 240,000 tickets to the Inaugural ceremony was extremely heavy, and congressional offices were swamped with requests.  The PIC announced in early December that it had arranged to open up the whole length of the National Mall to the public, something which has not been done before.  The D.C. government made plans to park as many as 10,000 charter buses.  Early on there were suggestions in the media that as many as 4 to 5 million people could attend, but later estimates put the number at around 2 million, and the most commonly cited final attendance number was 1.8 million. (LBJ's inauguration in 1965 had been the biggest to date, attracting 1.2 million)

The Presidential Inaugural Committee built a series of events around the swearing in ceremony. 

On Dec. 10, 2008, the PIC announced the official theme for the Inauguration is "Renewing America's Promise."

"Renewing America's Promise"
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Whistle Stop Tour. 1, 2, 3, 4
President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden and their families
travel to Washington, DC by train:
Events in Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, Baltimore, MD, and arrival in Washington, DC.

Sunday, January 18, 2009
"We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial." 1, 2, 3, 4 photos
"We will combine historical readings by prominent actors with music from an array of the greatest stars of today."'
2:30 p.m.
free and open to the public

Monday, January 19, 2009

Renew America Together: A Call to Service
"In 1994, to further commemorate a man who lived his life in service to others, Congress transformed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday into a national day of community service.  To honor Dr. King’s legacy, the President-elect and Vice President-elect and their families, like Americans in communities all across the country, will participate in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across the Washington, D.C. area." see  1, 2
, example
Community Service Day Lunch
invitation only

"Kids' Inaugural: We Are The Future" +
Concert at the Verizon Center
7:00 p.m.
free, tickets required

Bipartisan Dinners
1, 2
National Building Museum - Honoree: General Colin L. Powell (Ret.)   5:00 p.m.
Hilton Washington - Honoree: Senator John McCain   5:00 p.m.
Union Station - Honoree: Vice President-elect Joe Biden   6:30 p.m.
invitation only

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Inaugural Ceremony - Swearing-In +
United States Capitol
11:30 a.m. - Ceremony begins.

Demand for tickets was very heavy. (1, 2, 3, photos)

Inaugural Luncheon
Statuary Hall, U.S. Capitol
1:00 p.m.

Inaugural Parade 1, 2, 3, 4a, 4b, 5
Pennsylvania Avenue
Around 2:30 p.m.

The PIC selected over 90 music, cultural and community groups to join representatives of the Armed Forces.  (The deadline for applying to participate in the Inaugural Parade was Nov. 18, 2008. 
1,382 organizations applied.  Members of the various groups paid for their own transportation and accomodations).  All told over 13,000 participants travelled the 1.7-mile route.  Five thousand tickets for bleacher seats along the parade route went on sale on Jan. 9, 2009 at $25 apiece.  .

Inaugural Balls
Ten Official Balls:
Commander-in-Chief's, Neighborhood, Youth, Obama Home States, Biden Home States, and five Regional.
tickets required

In addition to the official balls, there are many unofficial balls around the city.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
National Prayer Service 1, 2
National Cathedral
invitation only; tickets required

"The morning after the inauguration, a National Prayer Service with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, and members of their families will be held at the National Cathedral. The service will bring together dignitaries and Americans of diverse faiths to celebrate the previous day's events through prayer, readings, and musical performances."

Events and The Big Day

"We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial"
After the Swearing In Ceremony
Southern Regional Ball
Other Celebrations-The Green Inaugural Ball, Ohio Democrats, African American Church Inaugural Ball
, Lincoln 2.0 Inaugural Ball, Disability Power & Pride Inaugural Ball

Around Town

Accomodations, Meals, Libations-Ritz-Carlton, More, Libations.
Obama Stuff-Political Americana,
Official Inaugural Store, Everything Obama Store, more stores, vendors, more vendors, yet more stuff.
Ad Campaigns-Budweiser, Ikea, Pepsi
Ideas-Organized Labor, More Interest Groups, Religion
Transportation-Metro, more, yet more+
"End of an Error"-
Demonstration, Flyers, Banner.
Shepard Fairey's portrait of Obama installed in the National Portrait Gallery.
"Quilts for Obama" at The Historical Society of Washington, DC.
MANIFESTHOPE: DC Gallery in Georgetown.
DC voting rights flyers near the Convention Center.
"Can & Did" in New York, NY.

Planning and Preparation

-Armed Forces Inaugural Committee.
Dec. 18 briefing
Jan. 11 rehearsal

-Constructing the Inaugural Platform.
Sept. 24, 2008-("First Nail Ceremony") > Dec. 3
> Dec. 10 > Dec. 16 > Dec. 30 > Jan. 9   ...Jan. 22

-Constructing the review stand and bleachers for the Inaugural Parade.
Nov. 3 > Nov. 12 > Nov. 19 > Nov. 25
> Nov. 26 >
Dec. 1
> Dec. 12 > Dec. 15 > Dec. 17 > approx. Dec. 22Dec. 26 > Dec. 30 >
Jan. 2 > Jan. 5 > Jan. 9
> Jan. 12 > Jan. 13 > Jan. 19   ...Jan. 21, Jan. 26

-More Parade preparations.
Hargrove Inc. prepares décor and floats.
Preparing the organized labor float.
The George Washington University float.

-Odds and Ends
Up go the bunting and flags.
Briefing on Inaugural planning and preparations.

Logistical Notes
Getting Around - Joint Transportation Plan, FAQ, Adjustment to Joint Transportation Plan, Metro, Metro Breaks Records
More Accomodations
Street Vending Rules
Bus Permits
Sale of Alcohol
Smithsonian Extended Hours on Jan. 20
The Art of Change

Recent Inaugurations
2004 Inauguration: "Celebrating Freedom-Honoring Service"

2000 Inauguration: "Celebrating America's Spirit Together"

Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action