- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

President Bush — the second wartime president after Franklin D. Roosevelt to celebrate an inauguration — will mark his 2005 swearing-in with tributes to the armed services.

The official theme for the events surrounding Mr. Bush’s Jan. 20 inauguration is “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service,” and was selected to recognize that “we are a nation at war” and to thank the troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, said Jeanne Phillips, chairwoman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Committee officials yesterday emphasized that Mr. Bush’s second inauguration is neither a victory party nor a political event.

“This is a bipartisan celebration of a democratic process of swearing-in,” said Greg Jenkins, the committee’s executive director.

The 2005 inaugural boasts a new gala, the Commander in Chief Ball. The free Jan. 20event is for 2,000 members of the armed services and their families, with special recognition for recently returned soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, and those about to be deployed. The Defense Department will distribute the tickets.

The inaugural festivities will include 10 balls, a youth concert, a parade and a fireworks display. The price tag is estimated at $40 million, not including security costs, that will be paid with a combination of private donations collected by the committee and tax dollars. Officials expect security for all the events to be tight.

When Mr. Bush is sworn in Jan. 20 at noon, he will join Richard M. Nixon as one of two wartime presidents to be re-elected and hold an inauguration since Roosevelt. Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected after promising to get the United States out of Korea.

The committee, which has nearly 500 staffers, is responsible for inaugural events including the balls and the youth concert, and handles applications for bands to participate in the parade. A special congressional committee oversees the swearing-in ceremony, and tickets will be available through congressional offices next month.

The president and first lady Laura Bush “are always involved in inaugural ceremonies; they know what is happening at every level,” said Miss Phillips, who now has worked on the Bush family’s three inaugurations.

“You might wonder,” said Miss Phillips, “what calls people by the thousands to Capitol Hill on a cold, sometimes wet winter day on January 20th every four years. I believe it’s the call of history.”

• This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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