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Obama’s inauguration was sensational and turned into a symbol of hope for the entire nation resonating with the world in general. Americans congratulated their first African American President feeling proud for their democratic nation characterized by the racial equality. Barrack Obama became the winner of the elections on November 11, 2008, and received 53% of the popular vote and 365 out of 538 of electoral vote. From the very beginning, the inauguration was planned to be exceptional, thus, two official committees prepared it, in particular, the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Joined Congressional Committee that titled the event using the memorable lines of the President Lincoln “A New Birth of Freedom”. As a result, the given inauguration was the first one that extended from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. Numerous famous people were invited including vice presidents, former presidents, and celebrities like Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Beyoncé, Tiger Woods, among others. Overall, the procedure included serious preparation of pre-inaugural events, inauguration itself and a variety of post-ceremony events making the event special. Therefore, the inauguration of the 44th American President has become one of the most expensive and exciting with a record amount of visitors.
The Cost of the Event
The Guardian informs that it was the most expensive inauguration in the U.S. history in comparison with the one of other presidents of the country (MacAskill, 2009). For instance, George Bush spent $42,3m for the similar event; Bill Clinton used up $33m, while Obama needed over $150m (MacAskill, 2009). The part of all the budged expenditures was spent for emergency with the consideration some climbing costs. The representative of the joined congressional committee concerning inauguration celebrations informed that official budged for Obama Inauguration, estimated $160m (MacAskill, 2009). The Guardian informed that the Government gave only $49m for inauguration, while the rest of the money came from private funding and contributors ((MacAskill, 2009).
There were a few reasons for such high expenditures. First, millions of people in the USA and abroad were going to observe a unique national tradition of a peaceful transition of power, and it was not possible for it to look like cheap and usual affair. Additionally, a part of the expenses was associated with logistical problems and transportation of the officials. Moreover, Obama made a decision to open the celebration for all the public, and thus, spending involved the emergency funding. Furthermore, the inaugural events included free concert in Lincoln Memorial with famous celebrities like Beyonce, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Shakira and many others, special event for children on Monday, inauguration parade form the Congress to the White House, balls, a service of prayer in the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday, and all of them demanded funding.
The Spirit and the Main Events of the Celebrations
The days of the inauguration were surrounded with mass euphoria of the citizens and official representatives. For them, it was a full victory of democracy, and the nation could serve as an example of democratic institutions for all the countries in the world. Undoubtedly, the most important and essential detail of the event was the personality of the President since Obama was the first African American who occupied the position. It was a triumph of all the people’s expectations and a sign of racial equality in the States.
In his publication in The Atlantic, David A. Graham (2013) claimed that more than 2 million Americans gathered in Washington D.C in the honor of the 44th American President. He described the event with exceptional enthusiasm applying wide range of emotions. The article states that every corner of the National Mall was filled with the visitors waving flags, crying and expressing deep respect and support (Graham, 2013). When the President finished his swearing-in ceremony, he went to the White House with his family accompanied by 15,000 people (Graham, 2013). It is possible to conclude that the day became a national holiday as it was believed that the first African-American president was going to protect the constitutional liberties and democracy. Numerous publications and mass media sources described the event as an exceptional one.
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To continue, a part of the celebrations was memorizing and honoring the President Lincoln. Therefore, Obama with his wife had a train tour that started on January 17. The event turned out to be symbolic as it was dedicated to the 200 anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The route of the tour was similar to the long trip that Lincoln made before his personal inauguration. A vintage train was in bright traditional colors, and hundreds of supporters welcomed the President, his family, guest and Obama’s friends. He finished the trip in Baltimore and Maryland where he proclaimed his speech before thousands of people. Later, Obama arrived to the traditional concert called “We Are One” at the Lincoln Memorial. A lot of celebrities were invited to read historic passages for several hours. The attendance of the concert was free for all visitors, and all the citizens were able to watch the event on television. Next, honoring the human rights leader, Martin Luther King Day was celebrated. The President visited a variety of ceremonies and meetings dedicated to some occasions and met military officers and veterans. Overall, all the events of the celebrations were inspired by the Lincoln’s ideas of equality as the main theme of inauguration.
It is worth paying closer attention to the Obama’s speech on the inauguration day. As it has been stated before, Lincoln and his ideas about equal freedom were the main inspiration for all the events that took place during the presidential inauguration of Obama. The newly chosen President took oath on January 20, 2009 and addressed the nation with an inspiring speech that was full of the ideas of Lincoln’s hopes and intentions. The delivery of the speech occurred one day before the birth anniversary of a famous American leader Abraham Lincoln that was a sign of admiration and deep respect to the former president living in the hearts of all the Americans. Moreover, Barack Obama used the Lincoln Bible during the ceremony as a symbol of American freedom and national authority. Additionally, “New Birth of Freedom” was a title for the inauguration speech. Those words expressed a key aspect of the Obama’s presidency and had been borrowed from the words of Abraham Lincoln.
The Coverage of the Obama’s Inauguration
The inauguration and its theme inspired numerous authors to describe the event with enthusiasm in the articles and books. It is impossible to count all the publications which are dedicated to the celebration; however, it is worth considering some of them. First, one should mention a book by Cummins (2009) with a name President Obama and a New Birth of Freedom. The work concerns the essence of symbolism of the inauguration and is almost entirely devoted to the President’s speech. The piece of writing includes several chapters depending on and highlighting the main ideas of the speech, for instance, “New Birth of Freedom”, “The Great Gift of Freedom”, “We’re not Enemies, but Friends”, and others (Cummins, 2009).
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Additionally, Poynter Institute for Media Studies (2009) has gathered all possible information from newspapers about the events associated with Obama, especially with his inauguration and celebrations connected with it. Its collection includes not only the national sources but also international ones gathered from all over the world. Moreover, it encloses advertisements, posts and different marketing programs aimed to inform the world about the event. For instance, The Honolulu Advertiser posted an impressive photo of inauguration titling it “A New Day” (The Poynter Institute, 2009). The Grand Island Independent called the event “Hope over Fear” (The Poynter Institute, 2009). Speaking about popular media sources of the countries other than the USA, Poland called the celebration a beginning of a new era named “Obamerica” (The Poynter Institute, 2009). Although it may sound quite funny, it is clear that the general association of the event was global bright hope in the personality of Obama.
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Furthermore, some mass media dedicated their discussions to the President’s family and even their clothes. For example, a number of the publications pay attention to green lathered gloves worn by Michelle Obama. It was claimed that the First Lady was perfect in her yellow dress accompanied with olive-green lathered gloves created by Cuban America designer Isabel Toledo. Her elegance and colorful look inspired the entire nation to be bright again. Of course, it is necessary to admit that her taste and feeling of the style are one of the best among the American First Ladies in the history of the country. The appearance of Michelle Obama was also special at the Neighborhood Ball. She wore Jason Wu’s silk chiffon elegant dress with sandals from Jimmy Choo. on the day of service and kid’s inauguration party, she looked amazing showing her perfect feeling of what the First Lady should wear at every occasion and understanding the meaning of the event.
In addition, the African Americans had their special understanding and feelings concerning the occasion. Their ideas are reflected in the book by Shauna Jamieson Carty named Praying in the Moment: Reflections on the Election of President Barack Obama (2011). It is a thorough description of all the essential details related to the periods before and after the elections, and the inauguration itself. It is a well-known fact that for a long time, African Americans suffered from racial discrimination, total hate and segregation, and had to start their Civil Rights Movement that ended with a victory, and the day of the end of the fighting was like no other for them (Carty, 2011). Similarly, the inauguration of the African American president became for them the second day like no other in their history which was mirrored in the book.
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Nevertheless, the event also had some negative responses in the mass media that came mostly from the Obama’s political opponents and media sources which were politically biased. For instance, Tim Goodman (2013) wrote the article for The Hollywood Reporter “Obama’s Inauguration: TV’s Momentary Escape from Absolute Cynicism”. In the work, he ironically describes the inauguration and compares it with the Hollywood presentation full of film elements aimed to move the public and influence people’s emotions (Goodman, 2013). Moreover, the journalist criticizes huge expenditures and tasteless appearance of the First Lady who was wearing too colorful clothes. Overall, the article is full of irony that can be noticed in the way the author describes the oath of the President accompanied with the serenades of the stars and using the words of Lincoln as the hint of the second term.
Thus, the Obama Inaugural Celebration is one of the most outstanding events in the American history. First of all, it is owing to the personality of the President and his democratic position. Additionally, it has become the most expensive and massive inauguration in the USA. The first African American President was a symbol of expectations and hopes for the entire nation, especially for the African Americans as it was the victory of equality and a sing of racial respect in America.