There are a lot of details being bandied about these days about the 2009 Inauguration. With a quick search of the internet you can find out the menu that will be served at the Inaugural Luncheon (seafood stew, pheasant, and molasses sweet potatoes) or facts about past inaugurations (did you know that George Washington delivered the shortest Inaugural Address in 1793...just 135 words.) You can even watch a slideshow of the inaugural platform taking shape.
But my favorite inaugural detail by far is the painting that will be hung in Statuary Hall at the Inaugural Luncheon. This painting, "View of the Yosemite Valley," by Thomas Hill, was chosen just for this occassion and is on loan from the New York Historical Society. The subject of the painting is Yosemite Valley, a classic symbol of the wilderness and natural beauty that makes America so unique. The painting was chosen to commerarate Abraham Lincoln's signing of the 1864 Yosemite Grant, which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as a public reserve.
Having worked as a park ranger at Yosemite National Park, I can testify to the jaw-dropping beauty of Yosemite Valley. And I'm happy to hear that this painting will be on display during such an auspicisous and historic occassion as this Inauguration. I hope it will remind our new president why our natural world is worth protecting and that he has tremendous power to do so. And I hope that while he's digging in to his seafood stew, he'll remember that his daughters, and my daugthers, are counting on him to keep the environment in mind while he's tending to his daily predential duties.