Air of Anticipation Surrounds Inaugural Planning

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WASHINGTON -- Long before Americans decided on their next president, one group of service members were working full time to plan his swearing in ceremony.

For logisticians, like Sgt. George Mickens, Inauguration Day is a dream.

"We do a lot, we do a whole lot and it's great to a part of it," he told CBN News.

"My first experience was like when you wake up on Christmas morning and you can't wait to get underneath the tree to see what you have for Christmas right? Inauguration reminds me of Christmas, it really does," he said.

Some service members have been in place for a year or more planning the big day. It's a carefully choreographed ballet. A giant map of Washington allowed planners to practice the dance. Then from the map, the rehearsals took place on the actual streets of the capital.

Some 15,000 people will participate in the inaugural parade.

On the west side of the U.S Capitol building, the platform is almost ready. Thousands will watch from the National Mall and 16,000 will watch from behind as the president and vice president take the oath of office.

"We want to show to the eyes of the world what the peaceful transition of power looks like," Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz said.

Planners can control and prepare for many elements of the big day.

"This is the celebration of the American people's choice for office of the presidency of the United States, and as members of the Department of Defense, we're just doing our part to try and make this happen as smoothly and enjoyably as possible," Lt. Cmdr. Christian Downward said.

But there's one thing they can't control: the unpredictable January weather.    

"If it's bitter cold and snowy, it makes life more complicated," Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, commanding general of the Joint Task Force, said.

According to the Constitution, President Obama's second term begins noon on Jan. 20. This year that falls on a Sunday.

Therefore, the president will take the oath of office during a private ceremony at the White House, followed by the public swearing in at the Capitol the next day, Jan. 21.

Jan. 21 is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day - something many believe is an appropriate coincidence. To honor Dr. King, the first family will join Americans across the country for a day of service on Saturday.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.