Letters: Inauguration

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Robert Siegel reads from listeners' e-mails about the coverage of the inauguration.


And now, to your letters about our coverage of President Obama's inauguration. Many of you sent us personal reflections, but some of you wrote about specific parts of our coverage.

(Soundbite of speech)

President BARACK OBAMA: Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

SIEGEL: Salvatore Babones(ph) caught a mistake in that line uttered by the new president - one that we've had to take notice of in the past as well. He writes, President Obama stated that 44 Americans have now taken the presidential oath. In fact, the correct number is 43. Grover Cleveland, certainly only one American, occupies numbers 22 and 24 in the catalog of American presidents. President Obama may be president number 44, but he is only the 43rd American to hold the office.

Well, Amanda Vogler(ph) from Birmingham, Michigan writes to thank us for airing Mr. Obama's remarks in their entirety. Hearing the full address, she says, gave me chills. I have never been so proud to be an American.

Well, several of you complained that we did not pay enough attention to the price tag for all of the festivities. Eduardo Hernandez(ph), who tells us that he voted for President Obama, writes this - the nation is suffering economic restraints that are affecting severely the man on the street. With this in mind, why such an elaborate presidential inauguration that surely is costing a lot of money? Who is paying for all the policemen from so many jurisdictions? Who is paying for all the 10 presidential balls, for all the money to prepare the parade? Mr. Hernandez goes on, but we got the idea.

So we put this question to NPR's Peter Overby, who covers Money and Politics for us and his editor, Muthoni Muturi. And while we don't have a grand total, here are some of the costs. You might need a pencil here. The presidential inaugural committee set out to raise about $45 million to pay for the parade. The official balls helped raise that money. Of course, there are many unofficial events as well.

Congress pays for the official swearing-in ceremony and for building the elaborate staging at the Capitol. That costs close to $5 million. Federal security alone costs some $12 million and that doesn't include local police forces. The U.S. Armed Forces pay for their ceremonial role, such as the many colored guards and bands.

The Mall is under the jurisdiction of the National Park service, and it costs a couple of million dollars to support that giant crowd and there are additional expenses for the area's mass transit system.

Well, we have surely missed something, make that a lot of things, but by any measure, our letter writer Mr. Hernandez is correct. It costs a lot of money.

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