2009 Inauguration: ‘A New Birth of Freedom’

Published 9:04 am Monday, December 29, 2008

By By Jo Bonner
The 56th Presidential Inauguration is just a few weeks away, and the nation’s capital is abuzz with activity.
Hotel rooms are booked, restaurant reservations are taken, and tuxedos and ball gowns are being prepared for an elegant night at one of the inaugural balls held throughout the city.
On Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be sworn-in as our nation’s 44th president and our nation’s first African American president.
The 2009 Inaugural theme, “A New Birth of Freedom,” commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. These words from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, expressed his hope that the sacrifice of those who died to preserve the United States would lead to “a new birth of freedom” for the nation.
As you can imagine, demand for tickets to this historic ceremony has far exceeded the number of tickets available.
In fact, literally thousands of requests have poured into our office. Unfortunately, each Member of the House of Representatives was only allocated 177 tickets.
While I would love for everyone from Alabama’s First District to come to the nation’s capital and bear witness to this historic event, I was simply unable to grant everyone’s request.
Our office used a random lottery in an effort to ensure that each person’s request was considered fairly. Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets, we were unable to consider any group requests.
Regrettably, my office will not be coordinating tickets for the Inaugural parade nor any of the Inaugural balls. With the exception of the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony, the Presidential Inaugural Committee is responsible for planning and executing all other Inaugural activities.
Further information on obtaining these tickets is available on the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Web site, http://www.pic2009. org/.
For those of you who are planning on making the trip to Washington to witness first hand this historic day, you should be prepared for long lines wherever you go.
City officials are predicting between one and five million people to come to Washington to celebrate the Inauguration. The Metro is planning to carry upwards of 1 million riders on Inauguration Day and will be running its rush-hour service for an unprecedented 15 straight hours from 4 a.m. until 7 p.m.
For security reasons, most of the federal buildings in Washington will be closed, and there will be virtually no public parking in the city. You should also expect heavy traffic and road closures.
As you know, the swearing-in ceremony is an outdoor event, and January in Washington is always cold, so you should dress accordingly. In the event of rain, umbrellas will not be permitted within the security perimeter, and you are encouraged to bring ponchos or rain coats.
You should also expect to be standing for long periods of time with limited access to restrooms.
Food, beverages, and other amenities will not be available within the ceremony perimeter, and you will not be allowed to bring any food item larger than a small snack.
Azalea Trail Maids to visit Washington
The Azalea Trail Maids will be traveling from Mobile to Washington next month to take part in the Inaugural festivities.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee invited the Azalea Trail Maids along with other participants from across the country to take part in the Inaugural Parade.
The historic parade will travel down Pennsylvania Avenue after the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Many of you may recall that the Azalea Trail Maids represented the city of Mobile at President Bush’s Inaugural parade four years ago.
The Azalea Trail Maids - comprised of 50 senior girls from Mobile County high schools - represent the city year round at hundreds of civic events. They have also made appearances around the country, including the Rose Bowl Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Disney’s Easter Parade, among others.
Our New Year’s Resolution To You
As is the case every year, this time of year is known for making resolutions, from vowing to lose weight by eating less and exercising more to vowing to save more of your hard earned money.
I would like to offer a resolution from my staff and me to you for 2009. Our offices in Mobile, Foley, and Washington, D.C. are here to serve each of you and your families, and we want to provide you with the best, most prompt and most courteous service possible.
I hope none of you will ever hesitate to call on us whenever you feel we can be of assistance.
May 2009 be a year filled with good health, happiness, peace and prosperity. Happy New Year.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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