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SIMMONS: Notes of history that played out for inaugurals past and present
Before the clock strikes noon Monday and Barack Hussein Obama takes to the podium at the U.S. Capitol and again recites the presidential oath of office, moments of reflection on symbolism and substance are in order.
Most of the items on the following list are inaugural-related, historical incidences of fact, while others are did-you-know? tidbits and quotes of interest as the 2013 inauguration intersects Monday’s lone federal holiday honoring a black American, the Rev. Martin Luther King.
Under the category of uber symbolism falls the fact that presidential limos are again sporting red, white and blue D.C. license plates that declare “Taxation Without Representation,” a reflection of the sentiment of many Americans.
What’s scary is that any nut case out there can now all-too-easily distinguish official presidential vehicles.
Even if the plates read “No. 1” it’s highly unlikely the District’s status will change in the foreseeable future.
King, who always trumpeted freedom, would have been 84 years old today as Mr. Obama again stands in the political and cultural cross hairs of the post-civil rights movement. His decision to use of one of King’s personal Bibles as he recites the 35 words of the oath of office could hold great substance if, during his second term, he gives great weight to something King once said:
“I feel someone must remain in the position of nonalignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both — not the servant or master of either.”
A couple of days before Richard M. Nixon’s first inauguration in 1969, James Brown and his 20-member band of renown were highlights of the All-American Gala at the D.C. National Guard Armory, where they performed a call-and-response anthem of the 1960s, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”
The words and deliberations of Abraham Lincoln have played major roles in the symbolism and substance of the public Barack Obama, who followed Lincoln’s footsteps and kicked off his first presidential run in 2007 at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site, in Springfield, Ill.
But did you know that the so-called Lincoln Bible actually belonged to William Thomas Carroll, who used it for Lincoln’s March 4, 1861, oath because Lincoln had arrived in the nation’s capital for the ceremony but his Bible had not?
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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