Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, announced Thursday the theme of the 2009 inaugural will be "A New Birth of Freedom."
It's from the Gettysburg Address, and will help commemmorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, which will come just weeks after the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama. Obama, like Lincoln a transplant to Illinois, launched his presidential campaign on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield where Lincoln gave his famous "House Divided" speech.
“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.
"The inaugural theme, which was selected by Senator Feinstein and the members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, will be woven through the inaugural ceremonies. The theme is traditionally linked to a major anniversary, and in her announcement Feinstein spoke of the appropriateness of the chosen theme to our present day circumstances, particularly in light of the historic election of Senator Barack Obama.
"In addition to Senator Feinstein, the members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies include: Senator Bob Bennett, Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; and House Republican Leader John Boehner.
“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’,” Feinstein said. “It is especially fitting to celebrate the words of Lincoln as we prepare to inaugurate the first African-American president of the United States.”
“On January 20, as President-elect Obama takes the oath of office, he will look across the National Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, where many of the sixteenth president’s immortal words are inscribed. Although some inaugural traditions have changed since Lincoln’s time, the swearing-in ceremony continues to symbolize the ideals of renewal, continuity, and unity that he so often expressed.”