Presidential Inauguration theme announced: ‘Faith in America’s Future’

November 29, 2012
Barack Obama is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 44th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2009. (Mark Wilson — Getty Images)

Just as President Obama’s reelection campaign adopted a forward-looking focus, his second inauguration will also ask the nation to look ahead.

Congressional organizers of the presidential inauguration announced Thursday that the theme of next year’s festivities will be “Faith in America’s Future,” a focus similar to the “Forward” theme that Obama used during the closing months of his campaign.

In announcing the theme, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies noted that their focus harkens back to an important congressional milestone. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the capping of the U.S. Capitol Dome, when builders installed the 19-foot tall Statue of Freedom during the Civil War. Workers assigned to completing the Capitol decided to continue working during the war, without pay, knowing that the dome would become a symbol of unity and democracy to the entire world, the committee said. 

“Our nation has faced countless challenges throughout its history, and each time we have come together as Americans and moved forward with renewed strength,” JCCIC Chair Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “During the 57th Presidential Inauguration, Americans from across the country will gather beneath the Capitol Dome to celebrate our history, take measure of how far we have come, and look towards our future with hope and determination.”

The JCCIC is a joint panel of House and Senate lawmakers assigned for hosting the inauguration, luncheon and review of military troops. Schumer is leading the committee, which includes Sens. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) as well as House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The inauguration will be held on Monday, Jan. 21, the seventh time that it is held on a Monday, because Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, is a Sunday. When James Monroe’s 1821 inauguration fell on a Sunday, he moved it to the next day, according to the JCCIC. Inaugurals for Zachary Taylor, Rutherford B. Hayes, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan also occurred on Mondays. Hayes, Wilson, Eisenhower and Reagan held private inaugurals on the Sunday in order to ensure an unquestioned continuity of power. The White House has not said whether Obama plans to do the same next year.

Next year’s inauguration also coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the second time that the two federal holidays have fallen on the same day. The first time was in in 1997 for Bill Clinton’s second inauguration.

Construction of the inaugural platform on the West Front of the Capitol began in September and is expected to be completed by early January, according to JCCIC staffers. Lawmakers earmarked $1.237 million for construction of the platform, the inaugural festivities and luncheon, a sum slightly lower than the two previous inaugurations.

Beyond hosting the event, luncheon and start of the inaugural parade, the inaugural balls, parties, concerts and parade are the responsibility of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which began its work in earnest just this week. Details on those events are forthcoming.

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Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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Ed O'Keefe · November 29, 2012