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Presidential Inauguration 2009

A Guide to Inauguration Events in Washington, DC


Presidential Inauguration 2009
Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

The Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama was held in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. A week of festivities included the Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony, Inaugural Address, Inaugural Parade and numerous inaugural concerts, balls and galas honoring the new President of the United States. An estimated 1.8 million people attended the 2009 Inauguration, a record breaking number for any event in the nation’s capitol.

The official theme for the inauguration was “Renewing America’s Promise,“ a vision that underscored the new administration's commitment to restoring opportunity and possibility for all and re-establishing America’s standing as a beacon of hope around the world.

See Photos of all of the Inaugural Events

Notable Facts About the 2009 Presidential Inauguration

  • With such a huge turnout, there were many security and transportation challenges. Overall, the event ran smoothly. However, some areas were so congested that people could not move. Thousands of people who had tickets to the swearing-in ceremony could not get there in time. At 11:30 a.m. the security gates closed and no one else was allowed on the Capitol grounds. The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the DC government have apologized to those people and are investigating how they can improve the flow of crowds in the future.
  • The cost of the 2009 inauguration was an estimated $75 million, higher than any prior inauguration. The biggest expenditures were for law enforcement, communication, transportation and emergency services. With larger crowds, more security and services were needed than ever before.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts mixed up some of the words during the oath of office. The following day Barack Obama retook the oath of office at the White House. Although the Constitution does not require this, the White House lawyers insisted on Obama retaking the oath anyway.
  • Senator Edward Kennedy had a seizure (due to exhaustion/brain cancer) and collapsed during the Inaugural luncheon. He was taken to the hospital and released the following morning. Senator Robert Byrd, age 91 and in declining health, also collapsed during the luncheon. Due to these events, the inaugural parade began late, after 3 p.m.
  • In an effort to make this inaugural celebration open and accessible to all Americans, many events were planned to include a wide variety of ordinary citizens. However, all of the events facilities had limited space and many individuals were disappointed with their inability to obtain tickets. The Presidential Inaugural Committee selected a variety of organizations to distribute those tickets. The Inaugural Welcome Concert at the Lincoln Memorial was free and open to the public as was the entire National Mall for attendees to watch the Swearing-in Ceremony and the Parade on large screens.
Read about my personal experience at the 2009 inauguration

Summary of the Inaugural Events

Saturday, January 17 - Obama, Biden and their families traveled by train to Washington, DC and hosted events along the way in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. See the schedule.

Sunday, January 18 – An official welcome concert was held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to kick off the inaugural celebration. The event was open to the public and broadcast live exclusively on HBO.

Monday, January 19 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - To honor Dr. King’s legacy, Obama, Biden and their families participated in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across the Washington, DC area. Additional events were held throughout the week. See the schedule of events.

Inaugural Eve Concert for America's Children - A free youth concert was held at the Verizon Center. The concert was broadcast on Disney Channel.

Tuesday, January 20 - Inauguration Day- Swearing-in ceremony, Inaugural Parade, and official Inaugural Balls. (See details below)

Wednesday, January 21 – National Prayer Service - The President, Vice President, First Lady, and Dr. Biden attended a special service at the Washington National Cathedral. It was attended by invited guests only.

Inauguration Swearing-in Ceremony

The oath of office was administered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol at noon on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Following the oath of office, the President gave his inaugural address, setting out his vision for America and goals for the nation.

Each Senator and Representative received a limited quantity of free tickets that they distributed to the public at their discretion. There were approximately 280,000 tickets. Those without tickets witnessed the swearing-in ceremony on large screens that were set up along the National Mall.

See Photos of the Inauguration

Presidential Inauguration Parade

Location: Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC

The presidential inaugural parade is coordinated by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC) which includes members from all branches of the armed forces of the United States. This American tradition honoring our commander in chief includes musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons.

Inauguration Balls

Many inaugural balls and galas were held at venues throughout Washington, DC. The official balls were planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and unofficial balls and parties were hosted by the State Societies of Washington, DC and a variety of other organizations.

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