Washington DC: The inauguration and Martin Luther King Day

Visit the Martin Luther King Memorial on the Tidal Basin

Visit the Martin Luther King Memorial on the Tidal Basin

You might want to go to Washington D.C. the third weekend of January this year. The nation’s capital will buzz with speeches and parades for Martin Luther King Day,  Jan. 21 and the presidential inauguration, Jan. 21.

Yes, the inauguration is supposed to be Jan. 20 and yes, President-Elect Obama will be sworn in that day in a private ceremony. However, in years when Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday, the public events and swearing in take place on Jan. 21.

First, the Martin Luther King Day of Service will be Jan. 19 in D.C.  The Presidential Inauguration Committee has a list of places where people can volunteer.

In addition, the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade steps off from Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and Milwaukee Place SE at 11 a.m. Jan. 19. On Jan. 20, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts co-hosts with Georgetown University “Let Freedom Ring” at 6 p.m. in a free Millennium Stage concert. Tickets are needed. They will be given out in front of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall at 4 p.m.

The inauguration takes place on the U.S. Capitol steps, Jan. 21. If you saw the movie, “Lincoln” you know that this year marks the 150thanniversary of his Emancipation Proclamation and placing the Statue of Freedom on the Capitol Dome. The timing will be reflected in the inauguration theme of “Faith in America’s Future” and President Obama’s address following his oath of office.

On the terrace of the Newseum you can see down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol

On the terrace of the Newseum you can see down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol

If 2009 is any indication on timing, inaugural ceremonies will being at 11:30 EST with the oath of office given at noon and the vice president’s oath given about 10 minutes after that.

What you need to know if you go. You can watch the swearing-in ceremonies on screens along the National Mall without a ticket. Members of Congress have tickets to distribute so don’t believe ticket claims online.  Spectators along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House should not have backpacks, aerosol cans or packages.

Places to go while in town

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is on the west side of the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials.  Be sure not to skip the Roosevelt Memorial. Its winding path past sculptures and etched messages recall a tumultuous time of despair and hope.

The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue at 6thacross from the National Gallery of Art has “Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press” on exhibit through Jan. 27, 2013. The Newseum  is also the place to look up past news-making events, try interactive news dissemination and social media communications, visit a 9/11 gallery and a large piece of the Berlin Wall. Best plan is to visit on the weekend instead Jan. 21.

Presidential campaigns on exhibit at the Newseum

Presidential campaigns on exhibit at the Newseum

The district has a good underground Metro system and buses on its main streets so wherever you go, your best plan is to take public transportation.

Photos by Jodie Jacobs


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