WASHINGTON D.C. — Hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds flooded D.C. this weekend, soaking up the energetic atmosphere and preparing to play a part in history.
On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, the streets were already buzzing, despite frigid temperatures in the 20s.
“It’s hot. It’s not cold out here, it’s hot,” said Anthony Brown, a photographer for the police department. “It’s a beautiful moment, a beautiful day in history right here.”
Many changes have taken place since the first inauguration of President George Washington in 1789. With the events scheduled for today’s swearing in of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama’s inauguration stands to be not only the most watched in U.S. history, but also the most expensive. The price tag of this inauguration will likely top $150 million.
The ceremony has evolved considerably since 1789. On the bicentennial year of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth, this year’s ceremony will pay tribute to the president who ended slavery and was the first to include African-Americans in his inaugural parade. In addition to paying his respects at the Lincoln Memorial last week, Obama requested to use Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural bible as he is sworn into office.
After Barack Obama’s victory in November, many jubilant Americans who had stayed up late celebrating returned to work. This was not true in Kenya, where President Mwai Kibaki declared the Thursday after Election Day a public holiday.
James Mwaura ’10, who was born and raised in Kenya, said that although he was not in Kenya on Election Day, his Kenyan relatives told him the reaction “was even crazier” there, in the country where Obama’s father was born and raised.
Although Obama barely knew his Kenyan relatives, Mwaura said, “Lots of people feel a kinship to him.”
Today is a day for new beginnings. As the Cornell community comes back to life with the start of spring semester, an estimated 2 million people from all around the country and the world descend on our nation’s capital to celebrate another beginning — the inauguration of the 44th president, Barack Obama. Over 100 of this throng will be Cornellians, looking to take part in the making of lifetime memories and of history.
January 20, 2008 may go down in history as the day we swore in our first black president, but there’s a good chance that today will mark another important historic milestone: namely, the largest crowd to ever hear a poem.
That’s right: with official predictions of inauguration-gawkers numbering in the millions, there will be a record-breaking quantity of ears around to take in the words of Elizabeth Alexander, an African-American professor of literature at Yale and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet who has been tapped by Obama to read a special poem. Sharing the stage with other artistic luminaries like Yo-Yo Ma and Aretha Franklin, Alexander will have a chance to capture the ceremony’s theme, “A New Birth of Freedom,” in a few pithy lines.
Gossip on Michelle Obamas inauguration dress is running wild. Her fashion tastes are being combed over in more detail than Kate Moss’s or Angelina Jolie’s. We all want to know: will Michelle be another Jackie O, elegantly clad in her own design? Or, like Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, will Michelle opt for a local designer — potentially at the expense of true chic? Hillary’s purple, sparkling Star Trek-esque dress from 1993 fell flat. Her second shot (after deferring to Oscar de la Renta) — a champagne sheath — was more in her own style (a predecessor to myriad colored pantsuits from her 2008 campaign).