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This blog is a chronicle of my insane personal challenge to celebrate at least one holiday or special day for every single day of 2009. Check back daily for new posts and days to add to next year's calendar!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20th - Inauguration Day of Barack H. Obama

I know it's really early in the day for you folks to be getting a new actual blog post from me, but I'm freshly home from celebrating both Obama's inauguration and a second holiday which will get its own post (of the regular sort) later today.

Today is a historic date as none of the news outlets will let anyone forget. Today we end the eight-year horror that was former-President George W. Bush's run of the White House, and have someone competent finally in the Oval Office.


My initial plans for today were simply to watch the inauguration here at home and then blog about it. That plan pleasantly changed this morning as I was asked by my grandma if I would like to join her in heading up to a church she attends services at to watch the inauguration there with a whole crowd of others, and I simply could not pass up that opportunity to share in the joy of welcoming our new President to his post.

We got up there at about 11:15 with a lunch we'd picked up at KFC, and after eating in the dining room area, I moved into the main hall to watch the ceremony as projected on two large screens.

As the cameras followed Obama walking down the hall of the Capital Bulding on his way to the crowds and the ceremony itself, the room burst into spontaneous applause which I shared in. The excitement in the room was almost tangible as various performances and speeches took place with more cheers and applause popping up occasionally, but for the most part, up until Obama finally took the Oath of Office, the main feelings in the room were anticipation and the aforementioned excitement bubbled just beneath the surface.

Joe Biden then took the Vice Presidential Oath of Office, officially succeeding Dick Cheney at exactly 11:58 a.m. Eastern Time. At noon, the official White House website changed over from George W. Bush as president to Barack H. Obama, preceding our new president's official swearing-in by five minutes.

Following that, a new John Williams piece, composed specifically for this event entitled "Air and Simple Gifts" based around the "Shaker Hymn" melody was premiered by Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.

The tension and excitement broke at 12:05 exactly as Barack Hussein Obama was officially sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States of America immediately following his taking the Oath of Office. The entire room immediately burst into a standing ovation, cheers erupting across the room and many tears shed in pure joy. It was a moment I don't think I'll ever forget.

No one was able to maintain their composure throughout the Inaugural Address with cheers and applause bursting up and dying down spontaneously throughout. A third standing ovation, this one lasting a good five minutes followed (the first took place after Biden). Shortly after that I left, but mostly because the room was heated to an uncomfortable level for me.


All across the country, and even numerous places around the world as evidenced by periodic shots of folks gathered in various places including London, Kenya, and even a classroom filled with young children in Jakarta, Indonesia where it was almost midnight, people gathered in groups to watch today's historic ceremony. I do not feel any more needs to be said about the impact that the change-of-power had on people's spirits worldwide.

If, by odd chance, you happened to miss the procedings due to work, sleep, or whathaveyou, I have found videos on YouTube of much of the ceremony which I will share with you embedded here in approximate chronological order for your viewing pleasure.

I could not find videos of the announcement and seating of the various attendees of today's ceremonies, so we'll start with Senator Dianne Feinstein's opening remarks:

Following that came the Inaugural Prayer led by controversial pastor Rick Warren:

Next was Aretha Franklin's performance of "My Country 'tis of Thee":

Joe Biden then took the Vice Presidential Oath of Office:

The performance of "Air and Simple Gifts":

Brack Obama then finally took the Oath of Office and was sworn-in as President:

Following that was the Inaugural Address. This was split into two videos, both of which follow:

Poet Elizabeth Alexander then read her poem "Song for the Day":

The ceremony ended with a Benediction from Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowry following which the Presidential party departed from the platform:

After a break for lunch, Obama had his official signing-in at the Oval Office. I apologize for the video's sound being basically inaudible, but it's the only video I could find of it:


I do not feel that I need to explain to you the fact that the ceremony itself WAS a historic event.


"Hail to the Chief" composed by Sir Walter Scott is the official theme music for the inauguration of the President of the United States and "Hail, Columbia" by Philip Phile is for the VP.

Today's ceremony also had its own specific official theme in the aforementioned John Williams piece.

As an additional fourth piece, and an UNofficial theme for today, I offer up our friend, Jonathan Coulton's song "The Presidents" as updated this past Saturday at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California.


-"Hail, Columbia" was the unofficial National Anthem of the U.S. until 1831 saw "The Star Spangled Banner" become our official one.

-I consider Obama to be the 43rd President not the 44th as the 22nd and 24th in the official count were both Grover Cleveland. Technically, in my opinion, rather than being two seperate presidents, I count Cleveland simply as the 22nd, with two non-consecutive terms.

-EDIT: Obama took the Oath of Office over again on the afternoon of the following day due to the flub during it, just in case.

-The regular list of holidays and observances will sit in the footnotes section of today's other official holiday post which will come later today.

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