With the theme "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service," President Bush's second inauguration will heavily emphasize a nation at war, but festivities will rival those held during peacetime.
Planned are nine official balls, a youth concert, a parade, a fireworks display and, of course, Mr. Bush's second swearing-in ceremony at noon on Jan. 20. The cost will be between $30 million and $40 million, an amount that does not include expenses for security.
Jeanne Johnson Phillips, chairwoman of the 55th presidential inaugural committee, said U.S. inaugurations allow the country to "paint a picture of democracy" and "stand together regardless of politics" — and that this event will be no different in that respect.
What will be different, she said in a conference call with reporters, is that every event will focus on calling attention to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as celebrating freedoms in the United States and other countries.
"We recognize this time that we are a nation at war," said Phillips, who has headed up two other inaugurations for the Bush family, in 2001 for the current president and in 1989 for his father.
This year, for the first time, a commander in chief's ball will be held, a special celebration for active troops who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. The Defense Department will distribute about 2,000 tickets.
Mr. Bush made national security, the war on terror and the liberation of Iraq a central focus of his re-election campaign that culminated on Nov. 3 when Democratic Sen. John Kerry conceded the presidential race to the Republican incumbent.
The committee, employing between 400 and 500 staffers, is raising the money through private donations from Bush backers.