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Obama inauguration could have Chicago influence

November 6, 2008 7:29:03 PM PST
One very important day on the schedule for president-elect Barack Obama is the 20th of January. That is when he will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of the United States of America. Preparations were already underway in Washington.

While it is slated for one day, inaugurations usually mean parties and events leading up to it as well. It is a major undertaking. So far, president-elect Obama has not made any public announcements about his inauguration. However, the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies has announced a theme. Not a surprise, it's all about the nation's 16th president.

The lumber has been delivered. The hammering has begun, 75 days before inauguration day and the area in front of the White House has been declared a hard hat area as preparations are under way for Obama's big day....

The inaugural theme is "A New Birth of Freedom" which are words taken from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address,

"The civil war and Lincoln have faded from public memory, but Obama is bringing it back front and center," said Libby Mahoney, Chicago History Museum.

For Mahoney, a Lincoln-themed inaugural is only natural. Obama's presidential run began in Springfield, and Obama has referenced Lincoln throughout his campaign, especially on election night.

"As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, 'We are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,'" said Obama.

While president-elect Obama has yet to announce any specific inaugural plans, many are expecting something unique. Rick Jascula worked for President Clinton back in 1992.

"The Obama operation has reinvented campaigns and the way the campaigns are run. I would expect them to also look at reinventing the inaugural. It's a great opportunity," said Jascula.

And you can probably expect a slice of Chicago in Washington on January 20. The Jesse White Tumblers were anxious to go after they made two inaugural appearances during the Clinton years.

"We had a discussion and we've not heard back but just have kind of skinned the surface," said Jesse White , Illinois secretary of state.

And Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless has already cleared his calendar for the inauguration just in case he is tapped. Barack and Michelle Obama are longtime customers of Frontera.

"They love exploring different parts of our menu, so if we can bring a little bit of that interest and diversity to the inaugural ball, we'll be thrilled," Bayless said.

Bayless says he has not officially been asked to participate in the inaugural festivities. However, it is almost a sure bet Bayless will be in Washington in January. He has already thought about a menu, which Bayless says will include ingredients that will reflect Obama's diverse background.


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