Monday will mark the 57th inaugural in our nation’s history. Inaugurals have been the prelude to important chapters in our history and are remarkable events to behold. If you ever have the opportunity to be in Washington for an inaugural it is an opportunity to seize. The city is packed with famous people and people from all over the country – which makes it a unique time to visit the nation’s capitol for any family.
Inaugurals are comprised of many separate events. For days leading up to the ceremony, people pour into Washington for parties, events and concerts. In 2009, the kick-off concert featured Beyonce, U2, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen and more.
The pre-inaugural festivities can be just as much fun as the inaugural events. You will not forget the Texas Society’s ball nor the Arkansas Traveler’s Blue Jeans Bash. I remember rushing back to D.C. from a ski trip to attend a party honoring James Carville and President Clinton’s mother in 1993. At the end the night, Mrs. Kelley (soon to be the First Mom) was exhausted and sitting quietly by herself. Since we had the same name I approached her and told her that she must be incredibly proud and fatigue gave way to a giant beaming smile.
You need not be a political donor to watch the inaugural ceremony or parade. The swearing in ceremony and address that follow can be seen from the mall and give every day Americans the chance to be part of this prelude to history. Just remember, it is winter and weather does not always cooperate. In 1985, Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural was moved indoors since it was only 7 degrees outside. It may not be much above freezing this year.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself
President Franklin Roosevelt First Inaugural Address
Let the word go forth from this time and this place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.
President John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address
It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.
President Ronald Reagan First Inaugural
There are plenty of great ways to watch the parade whether it is from one of the grandstand seats on the route or from the windows of the offices, museums and restaurants. Starting with Jimmy Carter’s exit from the Presidential limo to walk the last stretch, many Presidents now exit their limo near the final turn on Pennsylvania Avenue (although President Obama also got out earlier in the route as well). Old Ebbitt Grill is a great vantage point for this since it is often just outside it. Most of the best viewing places, such as Old Ebbitt, are closed for private parties so the key is knowing the right people to get in.
There are usually several official inaugural balls usually organized geographically (e.g., the California Ball) at different venues across the city. The President and First Lady and the Vice President and First Lady usually make an appearance at each one.
There are also several unofficial balls for those not on the A list. At midnight, the inaugural committee throw its final party – the After Ball which is one ball for the President’s most loyal supporters to party into early morning. All of the balls feature many famous acts and attendees. I will always remember dancing to Meatloaf’ singing Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad next to Secretary of State Madeline Albright, as well as seeing Nelson Mandela and Magic Johnson at the 1993 DC Ball.