In Inaugural, New Yorkers and New York Play Outsized Role

President Barack Obama takes the oath of office during the ceremonial swearing-in at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013.

From the apples on the table of the inaugural luncheon to the musicians who provided the pomp to the imagery of the inaugural poet, New York places and voices loomed large during the events in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

In a program less than a hour long, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Upstate New York were heard from, or invoked.

In his speech, President Barack Obama invoked Stonewall and Seneca falls, and vowed to move forward on climate change and gay rights, two issues that play well with New York Democrats.

The chorus of P.S. 22 on Staten Island began the musical part of the program this morning, singing Sarah McLaughlin’s “One Dream.”  A familiar, slightly nasal voice launched the speaking program — Senator Charles Schumer, from Brooklyn, who was Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. 

“No matter how steep the climb, how difficult the problems, how half finished the task, America always rises to the occasion,” Schumer said in a paean to inaugurals themselves.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Bronx-born U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the oath of office to Vice President Joseph Biden.  In his address, President Obama invoked the Stonewall riots, and the Seneca Falls convention which launched a long effort to achieve the right of women to vote.

Even the poet laureate, Richard Blanco, invoked New York City with a line in his poem referring to “the first brushstroke on a portrait or the last floor of the Freedom Tower jutting into the sky that yields to our resilience.”

Schumer even was crowing to reporters earlier that the inaugural luncheon boasted apples from the Hudson Valley and wine from the Finger Lakes and Long Island.