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First events for Obama's second inaugural announced

December 06, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Construction for President Obama's second inauguration is underway.
Construction for President Obama's second inauguration is underway. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP-Getty…)

The Presidential Inaugural Committee, tasked with planning festivities surrounding the second swearing-in of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, announced Thursday the preliminary details of what will be a long weekend of events to mark the start of the administration’s second term, beginning with a National Day of Service on Jan. 19.

The Obamas and Bidens, as well as members of the Cabinet, will participate in community service projects in the capital region to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

For the second time, Obama will have not one but two swearing-in ceremonies, though under decidedly different circumstances.

Because Jan. 20, the constitutionally mandated date for the swearing-in of a president, falls on a Sunday, the public inaugural on the West Front of the Capitol will take place on Monday, Jan. 21. But Obama and Biden will take the oath of office to officially begin their second terms in what the committee says will be a small, private ceremony on the 20th.

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In 2009, the situation was reversed, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. flubbed the wording of the presidential oath during Obama’s first inaugural, which fell on a Tuesday. Roberts traveled to the White House the next day to redo the oath “out of an abundance of caution,” the White House counsel said at the time.

The last time an inaugural fell on a Sunday was in 1985, for President Reagan’s second swearing-in.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that all four living former presidents will serve as its honorary co-chairmen. Actress Eva Longoria is among the four other co-chairs, who will be primarily responsible for raising funds for the events.

Obama campaign alumni will also have roles, including campaign manager Jim Messina, who will be chairman of the inaugural parade, and deputy campaign manager Julianna Smoot, who will be chairwoman of the inaugural balls and receptions.

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A Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, led by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), has already been in place to oversee the inaugural activities. The committee had already announced that the theme for the 57th inaugural would be “Faith in America's Future” and would note the 150th anniversary of the completion of the new Capitol Dome.

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