Join the club! Last Wednesday, the members of an elite group ate lunch at the White House. Barack Obama joined President George W. Bush and three former Presidents: George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. It was the first time all the living Presidents had gathered at the White House since 1981. The meeting was private. "All of us would love to be flies on the wall and listening to that conversation," said White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Obama will become a full-fledged member of the Presidents' Club on January 20. He will stand on the steps of the Capitol building and place his hand on the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used at his Inauguration. The Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts Jr., will administer the oath of office. The 44th President will promise to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
After President Obama gives his Inaugural Address, poet Elizabeth Alexander and the Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery will speak. Then the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters will perform the national anthem.
On Wednesday, after the speeches, the parade and 10 formal parties (the Inaugural balls), Obama will begin the hard task of leading the nation. He told TIME magazine that he has a long list of goals: helping the economy recover, creating jobs, revitalizing public schools and working with other governments to solve problems. "Two years from now," said Obama, "I want the American people to be able to say, 'I feel like the government's working for me.' "
Obama isn't the only one facing challenges. The new First Family is moving into the White House. It's a big home with 132 rooms, including a movie theater and a bowling alley. Susan Ford, the daughter of President Gerald Ford, once said that living in the White House as a teenager was like a "fairy tale."
Like other Presidents' children and grandchildren (see "Family Life"), Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, will have plenty of opportunities for White House adventures. They might even invite new friends for sleepovers. On January 5, the girls started classes at their new school, Sidwell Friends.
Words to Live By
Every President since George Washington has given an Inaugural Address. David Axelrod, one of Obama's closest advisers, says the new President will try to give a speech that is both "sober and hopeful." Will he look to past Presidents for inspiration? In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office during tough times. He told Americans that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The message that hope can win over fear would ring just as true in 2009.
In a letter to his son, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "I don't think that any family has ever enjoyed the White House more than we have." Below, see how Presidents' families made their White House days special.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT 1901-1909 WILLIAM H. TAFT 1909-1913
WOODROW WILSON 1913-1921
WARREN G. HARDING 1921-1923
CALVIN COOLIDGE 1923-1929
HERBERT C. HOOVER 1929-1933
1930FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT 1933-1945
HARRY S TRUMAN 1945-1953
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER 1953-1961
JOHN F. KENNEDY 1961-1963
LYNDON B. JOHNSON 1963-1969
RICHARD M. NIXON 1969-1974
GERALD R. FORD 1974-1977
JIMMY CARTER 1977-1981
RONALD REAGAN 1981-1989
GEORGE H.W. BUSH 1989-1993
WILLIAM J. CLINTON 1993-2001
GEORGE W. BUSH 2001-2009
BARACK OBAMA 2009-2010