New birth of freedom

Published 10:21 pm Monday, December 29, 2008

By Staff
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 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 Inaugural activities.
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 1 and 5 million people to come to Washing-ton to celebrate the Inaugu-ration. The Metro is planning to carry upwards of 1 million riders on Inaugura-tion Day and will be running its rush-hour service for an unprecedented 15 straight hours from 4 a.m. until 7 p.m.
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.
Jo Bonner is a member of the house of representatives.