Obama train journey to kick off historic inaugurationJanuary 17th, 2009 - 9:37 am ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 17 (DPA) Barack Obama was to embark Saturday on the first leg in a journey that will end with his inauguration as the United States’ first African-American president Tuesday.Four days of events leading up to the historic day begin with Obama’s “Whistle Stop” train tour beginning in Philadelphia, where the nation’s founders declared independence from Britain in 1776. The trip follows the last legs of former president Abraham Lincoln’s own inaugural trip to Washington nearly 150 years ago.
Obama’s inaugural plans have much in common with Lincoln, the revered fellow Illinois politician who ended slavery in the US, paving the way for Obama’s electoral victory on Nov 4.
The entire inauguration ceremony carries a Lincoln theme - “A New Birth of Freedom” - taken from Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address that followed an historic 1863 Civil War battle.
Throngs of supporters are expected to line the 220-km train route between the two cities. Aside from scheduled campaign stops, the train will make a few of “slow rolls” to give supporters lining the tracks more time to wave.
Obama, who arrived in Philadelphia late Friday afternoon, was to hold a kick-off event at the city’s station Saturday morning before hopping on the Amtrak train along with his family and 15 “ordinary Americans” that made outstanding contributions to the country.
From there Obama travels to Wilmington, Delaware, the hometown of vice president-elect Joe Biden, who is no stranger to the Amtrak journey. Biden commuted back and forth from Wilmington to Washington throughout his more than 30-year career in the US Senate.
With Biden and family on board, the Obama train moves on to Baltimore, Maryland, for another packed event with supporters. He is expected to arrive in Washington by the early evening.
The train journey is only the start. A music concert Sunday night will take place on Washington’s National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial. As many as 1 million people are expected to gather for an event that brings together a star-studded cast from the music industry.
Monday, Obama has declared a nationwide “call to service” in honour of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, prompting events across the country that highlight volunteerism.
Tuesday, about 2 million people are expected to crowd the National Mall for the big moment. Obama is to be sworn in at noon on the steps of the US Capitol, using the same Bible that Lincoln used at his own swearing in on March 4, 1861.
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