That’s because the Inauguration falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday that is observed by local, state and U.S. government offices, schools, the U.S. Postal Service and a myriad of businesses nationwide. Hence, an even larger crowd of Americans will be available for viewing this memorable, and emotional, day in history.
On Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, former U.S. Sen. Obama became America’s 44th commander-in-chief, while also writing a new chapter in this country’s lineage as the first African-American to hold the high office. Coming on the 200th anniversary of the birth year of President Abraham Lincoln, the Inaugural theme was fittingly titled, “A New Birth of Freedom,” which was a phrase taken from the Gettysburg Address.
The young president-elect, who was 47 when U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath of office, wrote many chapters in America’s chronicles throughout his first four years in office. Age was only one of his novelties. For the record, according to the Internet’s Wikipedia, only a handful of U.S. presidents were younger as of their Inaugurations: Ulysses S. Grant, 46; Theodore Roosevelt, 42; John F. Kennedy, 43; and Bill Clinton, 46. Grover Cleveland, who took the oath of office March 4, 1889, was also 47.
Although honoring an individual, Monday’s ceremonies are also a national celebration, one that pays tribute to a people, a land and a melting pot of cultures that call the United States their home.
Seemingly with every Inauguration Day comes a new entry into the annals of the American presidency. On this exciting eve of the U.S. coronation, it is of interest to take note of a few historic tidbits.
A few that grabbed our attention include:
- George Washington, America’s first president, on April 30, 1789, delivered the shortest inaugural address at only 135 words.
- By contrast, William H. Harrison on March 4, 1841, provided the longest inaugural commentary at 8,445 words.
- Thomas Jefferson, 1801, was the only president to walk to and from his inauguration.
- John Quincy Adams, 1825, was the first U.S. president sworn in wearing long trousers.
- James Buchanan, 1857, was the first whose inauguration was photographed.
- Abraham Lincoln, 1865, was the first to include African-Americans in his Inauguration Day Parade.
- William McKinley, 1897, was the first to be filmed by a motion picture camera.
- Woodrow Wilson, 1917, was the first to include women in his second inaugural parade.
- Warren G. Harding, 1921, was the first to ride to and from his inauguration in an automobile.
- Harry Truman, 1949, was the first whose oath was televised.
- Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963, was the first (and so far, only) to be sworn in by a woman (U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes).
- Ronald Reagan, 1985, had the pleasure of competing with Super Bowl Sunday in his second Inauguration.
- Bill Clinton, 1997, was the first whose ceremony was broadcast on the Internet.
Monday is a special day for America and a time of pride for all Americans.
Assuredly, we are sometimes a nation divided.
But on this day, let us set aside our differences and come together to share a common dream, even if just for a few brief hours.