TUMBLING THE INAUGURATION
To top off this election season, Tumblr has dispatched journalist Ari Melber to file a series of interviews, pictures, and stories from people celebrating the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Click below to read the first of the series, in which the leading expert on Presidential Inauguration history explains the significance of having both Beyonce and James Taylor perform, why Obama’s first inaugural address was disappointing, and other traditions to look out for on Monday.
In addition to following our coverage here, you can get in on the action from afar by submitting to NPR’s “Dear Mr. President” (your message to Obama could be featured on the air!) and taking your very own photo with POTUS on GoldRun’s special Inauguration Tumblr.
And, if you happen to be participating in the festivities on the ground in DC, please submit your photos/commentary here and be part of Tumblr’s community coverage!
Jim Bendat, 64, is a historian and author of “Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789 - 2013.” Here are his thoughts on the inauguration.
There will be a stack of bibles this time — we’ve had that before — both the Martin Luther King Bible and Abraham Lincoln’s bible. Michelle will hold the bibles, a tradition that began in 1965. Lady Bird Johnson was the first First Lady to hold the bible.
Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and James Taylor are performing at the ceremony — that’s quite an array of talent, something we’ve never seen at an inauguration before. Historically, its just military bands playing military music, or someone well known singing national anthem.
We are scaling down this year — just two official inaugural balls. It’s the first time since 1953 that there have been such a small number. President Clinton had fourteen in 1996, an all-time record, even though it was a second inaugural.
Inaugural addresses are normally only about 15 or 20 minutes. William Henry Harrison gave the longest ever inaugural address, more than 2 hours, and unfortunately caught pneumonia and died one month later.
The inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 stood out because that represented the first change of power in Washington. The first two presidents, Washington and Adams, were Federalists, so it was a president of a different party for the first time. Jefferson attempted to bring the country together when he said, ‘We are all Republicans; We are all Federalists.”
John F. Kennedy, the youngest man ever elected President … rose to the occasion, giving one of the greatest inaugural addresses — certainly nothing to match it since then.
I was among the commentators who was looking forward to Obama’s first inauguration. We had all seen the speeches he had given during the 2008 campaign, and he had proven himself to be quite an orator, so we were hoping for an inaugural address for the ages.
Didn’t really happen. There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t have any memorable phrases. No one walked out of there with quotes that resonated. Despite the fact that it was not memorable, it was still a very historic occasion, and the huge turnout proves that.
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