WASHINGTON – The inauguration ceremony for President Obama’s second term will be held on Monday, but besides being sworn in on a platform on the West Front of the Capitol, he will participate in a whole range of events, from volunteering to ballroom dancing.
Since the inauguration happens to fall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the event will be preceded by the first family taking part in the National Day of Service on Saturday in recognition of the civil rights leader.
The White House has called for those in Washington, D.C., and people nationwide to join the president in what he’s called “a fitting way to honor a man who lived his life in loving service to others.”
On Sunday, Obama will be sworn into office around noon EST in a quiet affair in the White House. Joe Biden will be sworn in about 8:15 a.m. in a separate ceremony at the Naval Observatory, the official residence of the vice president. The Constitution requires that the president and vice president take office by noon on Jan. 20, which is Sunday, but it has become a tradition not to hold the festivities surrounding the event on a Sunday. So both men will be sworn in twice.
The main event of the next few days will be the public swearing-in ceremony. Washington has been preparing for it for the last several weeks. It will be replete with pomp and circumstance, and even a performance by Beyonce at 11:30 a.m. EST on Monday.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will administer the presidential oath of office to Obama and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will administer the vice presidential oath to Biden. Obama will then deliver his inaugural address, the content of which is still veiled in secrecy. Kelly Clarkson will perform “My Country Tis of Thee,” James Taylor will take on “America the Beautiful” and Beyonce, a prominent supporter during Obama’s reelection campaign, will perform the national anthem.
That event will be followed by the inaugural parade, which will begin at 2:35 p.m. EST, running along Pennsylvania Avenue and featuring Obama, Biden and their wives along with a number of floats and vehicles accompanying the presidential escort.
Overall, the ceremony is expected to be a low-key affair, particularly in comparison to the 2009 ceremonies, when the inauguration of the nation’s first African American president drew an estimated 1.8 million to the National Mall.
The after-parties have also been curtailed, with just two official inaugural balls planned – the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, mainly held for members of the Armed Services, and the Inaugural Ball, for the invitees of the president. Of course, there will also be numerous unofficial balls and other events.
The balls are followed by a national prayer service Tuesday 10:30 a.m. EST at the National Cathedral, which marks the end of the inaugural ceremonies.
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