Obama’s inaugural theme echoes Lincoln

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“A Birth of New Freedom” will be President-elect Barack Obama’s official inauguration theme. The choice was inspired by the Gettysburg Address, in which President Lincoln expressed hope that the sacrifice of those who died to preserve the nation would lead to “a new birth of freedom.”

“At a time when our country faces major challenges at home and abroad, it is appropriate to revisit the words of President Lincoln, who strived to bring the nation together by appealing to ‘the better angels of our nature,’” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC). The latter phrase was drawn from the 16th president’s first inaugural address.

“Although some inaugural traditions have changed since Lincoln’s time, the swearing-in ceremony continues to symbolize the ideals of renewal, continuity and unity that he so often expressed,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

Preparations for Inauguration Day — Jan. 20 — have been in the works for months. They officially began with the ceremonial “first nail” of the inauguration platform on Sept. 24. The city also repaved Pennsylvania Avenue to eliminate potholes.

“The presidential inauguration is more than just a celebration of one person’s assumption of the presidency,” Mrs. Feinstein said after driving that first nail. “It is an affirmation of our Constitution.”

Inauguration Day will begin with a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. The president-elect and vice president-elect will then be sworn in on the 10,000-square-foot platform under construction on the west steps of the Capitol. The platform will be similar in size to the one used in the 2005 inauguration, which was the largest ever. More than 200,000 people are expected to attend.

After his inaugural address, President Obama will attend a luncheon in National Statuary Hall and then parade back down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will be given a send-off ceremony on the east side of the Capitol.

The swearing-in and send-off ceremonies will be put together by the JCCIC, but the rest of the day’s events (including the popular Inaugural balls) will be planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). The members of the PIC are chosen by the president-elect, but Mr. Obama has not made his selections yet.

Tickets for the inauguration will be distributed in January to members of Congress. Those who wish to attend can contact their senator or congressman. Tickets also will be available through area ticket brokers.

For more information about Inauguration Day, visit: www.inaugural.senate.gov; to apply for a chance to participate in the parade visit here.

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