SPRINGFIELD — Illinoisans from across the state will gather Monday in the nation’s capital to see President Barack Obama sworn in a second time around, and many of those attending from the president’s home state are a little quieter in their enthusiasm.
The spirit of the 2009 presidential inauguration was “alive,” said Barbara Brown of Chester, the vice chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. The last time around, when Brown attended the inauguration four years ago, it was a “wonderful day to be in D.C.,” but she is still just as “hopeful” and “confident” as she was then.
“Now I think we come to it (inauguration) maybe more mature in some ways in that we know how difficult the last four years have been, how bitter the partisanship has been, so what I feel is a more quiet confidence this time,” Brown said.
Gov. Pat Quinn plans to attend the inauguration and will serve as the honorary chair for the Illinois Presidential Inaugural Gala.
“It’s a proud day for the United States of America and a proud day for Illinois,” Quinn said in an address Friday. “A favorite son of Illinois, President Barack Obama, will be sworn in again as president. He’s an inspiration to all of us, and I think we ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon plans to attend the swearing-in ceremony, but not the inaugural ball, and she plans to drive there with family.
“I think that she’s very much looking forward to sharing this experience with her family,” Simon spokeswoman Annie Thompson said. “There’s obviously that Illinois connection, with President Obama being from our home state, so she’s very much looking forward to seeing him sworn in for his second term.”
Among the Illinois-centric activities planned for the weekend is a party at the Washington Marriott sponsored by Illinois Senate Democrats.
Mike Carrigan of Decatur, the president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, arrived in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration on Friday. He said a lot of Illinois labor leaders were “envious” about wanting to take the trip with him.
He said the inauguration serves as an “exclamation point” for the work that took place leading up to the celebration.
“It was kind of a gratifying moment to take off and know that it’s going to culminate on Monday,” he said.
The official swearing-in ceremony will take place at 10:55 a.m. Sunday, with the ceremonial swearing-in at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Brown said that on her Friday flight to Washington, there were many parents with their children headed to the inauguration as well.
“That’s exciting to see families bringing their children to be a part of something like this,” she said.
Stephenson County Board member Samuel Newton said he is looking forward to taking his daughter to the inauguration.
“More so than anything, I wanted to involve my daughter in the opportunity to see what it was like to be involved in the inauguration and the celebration of a new president being put into office,” Newton said.
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Victoria Berkow of suburban Arlington Heights, a history major and junior at Bradley University in Peoria, is attending a seminar in Washington through The Washington Center, a nonprofit internship and seminar organization. Berkow said that although she did not attend the inauguration in 2009, this time around is still “cool.”
“I have always been intrigued with American history, so I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to take part in American history,” she said.
McLain Schaefer, a social science teacher at Mattoon High School, will chaperone 16 Mattoon students on a bus trip to D.C. that he’s been planning since school began in August.
“This hits everything that a high school curriculum would talk about concerning American history, especially once we get into different war memorials,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better field trip.”
Schaefer, who did not attend the 2009 inauguration, said the Mattoon High School students will join other schools across the nation through the efforts of WorldStrides, a travel organization.
Dr. Walter Bradley of Chicago, a Trinity Medical Center physician in Moline, was unable to attend the presidential inauguration in 2009 and is looking forward to possibly attending an inaugural ball this year.
“I think the opportunity for anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to attend an event such as a presidential inauguration is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events. ... It’s part of the American process,” he said.
Bradley said he is taking the opportunity this year to speak with as many elected officials as possible, regardless of party affiliation.
“I think it would be an opportunity to, hopefully, in addition to sharing some networking time, letting your representatives know also where you are on those various issues, your feelings on what you’d like to see in the people that you have elected and sent to Congress on your behalf,” he said.