A guide to enjoying the inauguration

From the first inauguration, in 1789, of George Washington in New York, to present day, as the country prepares for the 56th quadrennial Presidential Inauguration, the swearing-in ceremony represents both national renewal and continuity of leadership. As each president has offered a vision for America’s future, we reflect on the heritage of inaugurations past.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) decided on “A New Birth of Freedom,” for the 2009 theme.

“A New Birth of Freedom,” commemorates the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The words come from the Gettysburg address, and express Lincoln’s hope that the sacrifice of those who died to preserve the nation shall lead to “a new birth of freedom” for our nation.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the JCCIC said, “At a time when our country faces major challenges at home and abroad, it is appropriate to revisit the words of President Lincoln, who strived to bring the nation together by appealing to ‘the better angels of our nature.”

“It is especially fitting to celebrate the words of Lincoln as we prepare to inaugurate the first African-American president of the United States.”

Because of the historical value of the inauguration, many people are making sure they have a seat.

Tracey Austin, a nursing assistant from Roswell, Ga., fell asleep during election night before they announced the winner.

“My friend called and screamed ‘He won, he won!’and I went right to Travelocity.com to book a hotel, because I knew they would sell out quickly.”

“That was a smart move,” said Julia Rodriquez, a traveling agent in Washington, D.C.

“The city is already a tourist site, but with probably the most historical inauguration in our lives taking place, the price for everything will go up higher and higher and faster and faster.”

Although there are still hotels available, they range from $599 to $1500 per night and for many students, that price is not an option. Not to mention the confusing ticket process and transportation costs.