White House Plans Inauguration

At the height of World War II in 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt opted for a low-key inauguration to mark the start of his fourth term, with a simple swearing-in ceremony, a brief speech from the South Portico of the White House to a small crowd and a modest luncheon. He was the exception.

No other president-elect taking office during wartime — from Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War to Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Korean conflict to Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War — has scaled back his inaugural events as Roosevelt did.

Neither will President Bush (search).

In January, as war continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's second inauguration (search) will heavily emphasize the ongoing conflicts and sacrifices by U.S. forces with the theme, "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service." But the festivities will rival those held during peacetime.

On tap are nine official balls, a youth concert, a parade, a fireworks display and, of course, Bush's second swearing-in ceremony and speech at noon on Jan. 20. Planners put the cost at $30 million to $40 million, excluding expenses for security for the first post-Sept. 11 inauguration.

In his re-election bid, Bush campaigned as a wartime president. He made the fight against terrorism and the liberation of Iraq the focus of his campaign that culminated win his Nov. 2 win over Democratic Sen. John Kerry (search).

During next month's inauguration, most of the events will call attention to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as highlight the freedoms in the United States and the U.S. effort to bring the same rights to other countries. An opening event will pay tribute to the troops and a "celebration of freedom" will be held on the Ellipse.

A commander in chief's ball is a first, with some 2,000 free tickets to be given to servicemembers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. The Defense Department will distribute the tickets.

"We recognize this time that we are a nation at war," said Jeanne Johnson Phillips, chairwoman of the 55th presidential inaugural committee. She headed two other inaugurations for the Bush family, in 2001 for the current president and in 1989 for his father.

She said that Bush's second inauguration, like the others before it, will "paint a picture of democracy" and provide a time for Americans to "stand together regardless of politics."

Committee officials stressed that the festivities shouldn't be looked at as a partisan victory party but rather as the hallmark of a democracy, a peaceful transition of power with Bush reaffirming his oath of office.

"This is not a political event," said Greg Jenkins, the committee's executive director. "This is a bipartisan celebration of a democratic process of swearing in."

The committee employs between 400 and 500 staffers and is raising millions for the celebration through private donations from Bush backers.

The committee is responsible for the inaugural balls and the concert, and handles applications for bands to participate in the parade. A special congressional committee oversees the swearing-in ceremony and tickets will be available through congressional offices next month.

Paul F. Boller, a professor emeritus of history at Texas Christian University and the author of "Presidential Inaugurations: From Washington's Election to George W. Bush's Gala," said Bush's inauguration plans are similar to other wartime presidents.

"Most of the inaugurations had a lot of celebrating going on, regardless of whether war was going on, too," Boller said.

But Roosevelt's fourth inauguration was different.

Somber in tone, Roosevelt delivered his speech, just 559 words, at the White House rather than the Capitol because of the war and his poor health. A post-inauguration luncheon was held for 1,000 guests. According to Boller's book, the menu reflected "wartime austerity: cold chicken salad, rolls without butter, unfrosted pound cake, and coffee."

"He did not want an elaborate ceremony," said Donald Ritchie, an associate Senate historian. "There was no parade, no balls or anything like that. They really didn't want a celebration because of the circumstances."