The Virtual Inaugural

If you're not coming to Washington this weekend for the inaugural festivities -- or if you're in town but don't want to risk frostbite to cheer Bill Clinton back into office -- you can still rally around the President by celebrating the 53rd Presidential Inaugural on the World Wide Web.

On the Net, you can virtually roam around the National Mall, download snapshots of various luminaries, quiz yourself on inaugural trivia, order commemorative memorabilia and even share your hopes and dreams for the next four years. Come join us as we cross that T1 line to the 21st Century.

We begin our journey at the Presidential Inaugural Committee's Web site, where a calendar of all the inaugural events is only the beginning of the fun.

An on-line exhibit of artifacts from inaugurations past displays objects from the Smithsonian's collections that are not on display anywhere in the real world. The only place to see these trinkets from the inaugurals of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and others is on the committee's Web site.

Another unique section of the site is the "American Journey" area, where an electronic form allows you to share your hopes and dreams for the next four years. This week the committee will begin posting people's submissions on the site.

If you're in the mood to spend, the QVC Network has an on-line shop of inaugural commemorative stuff, from a gold inaugural medallion ($695.00) to the official inaugural T-shirt ($14.00). The T-shirt, incidentally, is $4 more expensive than the President's less-than-bestselling book, Between Hope and History.

Once your wallet is empty, you can fill your brain in PBS's Inaugural Classroom. There's a quiz, a lesson plan for teachers, and after the inauguration there will be an on-line discussion with Miller Williams, the inaugural poet.

Everything you need to know about the logistics of the inaugural activities, along with a history of past inaugurations and some nifty photos, is available at the site of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which coordinates the Defense Department's extensive role in all the festivities. Additional sources of on-line inaugural fun can be found at the White House's inauguration page.

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