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Remarks by the President-Elect on Inaugural Preparations

January 14, 2009

On Tuesday, with a simple oath that's marked the renewal of our nation's democracy for more than two centuries; I will take office as the forty-fourth President of the United States.

But this Inauguration isn't about me. It's about all of us. At this defining moment in our history, it serves as our opportunity to come together in common purpose, united in our resolve to renew the promise of this nation and meet the challenges of our time.

Now, you've probably heard the reports that unprecedented numbers of Americans are planning to join us in Washington. That will mean long lines, a tough time getting around, and most of all, a lot of walking on what could be a very cold winter day.

Fortunately, you don't have to brave the crowds and commotion in order to participate in this celebration - because we've made this Inauguration open and accessible to communities across our nation.

Just text the word "open" to 56333 for news, transportation updates, and ways you can participate.

We're kicking off inaugural week events on Sunday afternoon with a free celebration at the Lincoln Memorial that's open to the public. And to allow Americans across the country to join us, HBO will broadcast the event for free that evening.

Monday night, Michelle and Jill Biden are hosting a free Kids' Inaugural concert to honor the children of military families, which the Disney Channel will broadcast live on television and their radio network.

On the evening of the Inauguration, Michelle and I will attend the first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, and we want you to be right there with us - wherever your neighborhood is.

ABC will broadcast it on television, we'll webcast it on the Internet and post updates from the ballroom, and if you visit, you can even sign up to host your own neighborhood ball at home.

But that's just the beginning when it comes to ways you can get involved. I'm also asking for your active participation.

Next Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And to honor the legacy of a man who lived his life as a servant to others, I will ask all Americans to make a renewed commitment to serving their communities and their country.

Dr. King once said, "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve." You don't have to wear a uniform. You don't have to be a community organizer. You don't even have to run for President. At a time when there is so much need, we are blessed with endless ways to contribute something to the life of this nation.

On Monday, my family and the Biden family will spend time volunteering in neighborhoods around Washington. I am asking you to join us in that same spirit of service to others - no matter where you live.

And we've unveiled a new tool to make it easy.

Just visit to find service projects in your community, or even organize your own around the causes you care about.

Log on and you'll see that thousands of events involving millions of Americans have already been set up across the country next Monday and beyond.

Because I'm not just asking you to take part in one day of service. I am asking you to make a lasting commitment to make better the lives of your fellow Americans - a commitment that must endure beyond one day, or even one presidency.

At this moment of great challenge and great change, I am asking you to play your part; to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation. And if you do, then I truly believe a new and better day is within our reach.

Thank you.

Barack Obama, Remarks by the President-Elect on Inaugural Preparations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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