The 56th Presidential


Barack H. Obama

A New Birth of Freedom

January 20, 2009

A New Birth of Freedom

The Presidential Inauguration of 2009 took place as the nation prepared to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The President-elect took the oath of office and addressed the nation from the West Front of the United States Capitol, looking 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.

Opening Musical


The United States Marine Band

Colonel Michael J. Colburn, Director

The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks

Dianne Feinstein


Dr. Rick Warren

Musical Selection

Aretha Franklin

Vice Presidential Oath of Office

Administered to Joseph R. Biden Jr. by the Honorable John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Musical Selection

  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Anthony McGill
  • Gabriela Montero
  • Itzhak Perlman

Composed and arranged by John Williams

Presidential Oath of Office

Administered to Barack H. Obama by the Honorable John G. Roberts Jr., Chief Justice of the United States.



‘Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America—they will be met.’

(Time: 21 minutes, 21 seconds; Words: 2404)


Elizabeth Alexander


The Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

The National Anthem

The United States Navy Band Sea Chanters

Facts, Firsts &


  • Largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington, DC

  • Largest attendance of any Presidential Inauguration in U.S. history

  • First African American to hold the office of President of the United States

  • First citizen born in Hawaii to hold the office

  • Highest viewership ever of the swearing-in ceremonies on the Internet

  • First woman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to emcee the ceremony

  • First inaugural webcast to include captioning

  • First swearing-in ceremony to include an audio description

West Front, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
Noon conditions: Temperature: 28°F with winds NNW at 13 mph, gusting to 23 mph. Few clouds at 4,500 feet, overcast at 25,000 feet.
The Lincoln Bible. The Lincoln Bible was the Bible used by president Abraham Lincoln at his presidential inauguration. The Bible is part of the collection of the Library of Congress. The Bible itself is an Oxford University Press edition published in 1853, has 1280 pages, and measures approximately 15 cm (6 in) in length and 10 cm (4 in) in width, and 4.5 cm in thickness, and is bound in burgundy red velvet with gilt edges.
Inaugural Committee