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The inauguration of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States took place on January 20, 2009. The inauguration, with a record attendance for any event held in Washington, D.C., marked the commencement of the four-year term of Barack Obama as President and Joseph Biden as Vice President. With his inauguration as President of the United States, Obama became the first African American to hold the office and the first President born in Hawaii. The theme of the 56th inauguration was "A New Birth of Freedom," commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

The inauguration celebration commenced on January 17, 2009 with a train ride beginning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Official events were held in Washington, D.C. from January 18 to 21, 2009, including the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, a day of service on the federal observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a "Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert event at the Verizon Center, the inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, an inaugural luncheon at National Statuary Hall, a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, a series of inaugural balls at the Washington Convention Center and other locations, a private White House gala and an inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.

The commencement of the 2009 inauguration activities began with a train ride to commemorate Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States and a former Illinois politician, by partially re-enacting Lincoln's 1861 train ride to Washington, D.C. At 10:00 a.m. EST on January 17, 2009, Obama began the tribute by holding a town hall meeting at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia before embarking on the train ride at 11:00 a.m. EST. By 11:30 a.m. EST, Obama reached Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Vice President-elect Biden in the Georgia 300, a railroad car used by past presidents. Obama and Biden then continued to Baltimore, Maryland where Obama spoke to a crowd of around 40,000 people. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prevented private planes, news helicopters, balloonists and others from flying anywhere near the airspace above the train route. Obama and Biden arrived at Union Station in Washington, D.C. at 7:00 p.m. EST.

During his time, Lincoln began his tour in Springfield, Illinois on February 11, 1861 before arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 21, 1861 to complete the first phase of his train tour. In the second phase of the tour, Lincoln traveled to his 1861 inauguration in Washington, D.C. by chartered train from Philadelphia, stopping in 70 places along the way.

The eve of the inauguration day, January, 19, 2009, fell on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday recognizing King's birthday. Obama called for a national day of service on this day. Both Obama and Biden participated in the activities, and the Presidential Inauguration Committee provided information through its website about how to host community service projects, along with information about a broad range of national service organizations, to motivate participation. Obama described the day of service on the holiday as a natural observance: "As we honor that legacy, it's not a day just to pause and reflect — it's a day to act."

On January 19, 2009, the presidential motorcade departed at 8:33 a.m. from Blair House enroute to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Obama spent a little more than an hour with wounded service members and their families. In a private setting, Obama met with 14 service members recovering from wounds sustained in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. Obama and Martin Luther King, III then headed to the Sasha Bruce House homeless shelter for teens in Washington, D.C., while Jill and Ashley Biden, Michelle Obama, and Obama's daughters Malia and Sasha, along with hundreds of volunteers, spent the morning at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium where they helped fill 60,000–85,000 care packages destined for U.S. troops overseas. After a morning of service activities, the Obamas and Bidens met for lunch at Coolidge High School, a school located in N.W. Washington, D.C. Joe Biden spent part of his day hanging drywall at a Habitat for Humanity home in N.E. Washington, D.C., as others continued to perform numerous service activities throughout the city on that day. Nationwide over 11,000 service events occured. During the evening, Obama hosted three separate bipartisan dinners, honoring the service of John McCain, Colin Powell and Joe Biden.

January 2009

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