When President Barack Obama is inaugurated for his second term in office on January 21, 2013, it will be a historic moment for many reasons. Not only will our nation's first African-American president be sworn in for the second time, but it'll also be on a different date than we've seen in the past few years.
The Constitution mandates that presidents be sworn in on January 20. Next year, however, that falls on a Sunday, so for only the seventh time in history, the president will be sworn in on the following day. The last president to be sworn in on January 21 was Ronald Reagan in 1985.
However, the inauguration date holds weight for a couple other much more significant historical reasons.
For one, it falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a lovely coincidence and an honor that our first African-American president will begin his second term on a day that honors the great civil rights leader. I can only imagine King would have loved the chance to see Obama take the Oath of Office.
In addition, inauguration organizers are going to highlight the significance of the date -- January 2013 -- 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves in Confederate territories were free men and women, and making the abolition of slavery an explicit goal of the Civil War.
It's amazing to think about how this country has changed since Lincoln was President and even since Martin Luther King Jr. fought against racial inequality, but also how our institutions and our ideals have endured. When Obama is sworn in on January 21, he'll be on the steps of a building that's stood for 150 years as a symbol of American unity and idealism.
When Obama was first inaugurated in 2009, a record-breaking 1.8 million people went to Washington, D.C. to witness it. This time they don't expect such huge crowds, but it will still be quite the party. I remember watching Obama's first inauguration on TV while I was working for a cable news network. We all took a few minutes to stop and watch, and I teared up, thinking that maybe America had turned a corner and we'd begun to really change.
Yeah, that didn't manifest in the ways we'd hoped. But this inauguration's theme, "Faith in America's Future," means we're not giving up. Let's see if we get some of that change we've been waiting for in the next four years.
Are you planning to watch Obama's inauguration on January 21?
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