The New York Times Magazine interviews the chairwoman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Jeanne L. Phillips:
I hear one of the balls will be reserved for troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Yes, the Commander-in-Chief Ball. That is new. It will be about 2,000 servicemen and their guests. And that should be a really fun event for them.
As an alternative way of honoring them, did you or the president ever discuss canceling the nine balls and using the $40 million inaugural budget to purchase better equipment for the troops?
I think we felt like we would have a traditional set of events and we would focus on honoring the people who are serving our country right now -- not just the people in the armed forces, but also the community volunteers, the firemen, the policemen, the teachers, the people who serve at, you know, the -- well, it's called the StewPot in Dallas, people who work with the homeless.
How do any of them benefit from the inaugural balls?
I'm not sure that they do benefit from them.
Then how, exactly, are you honoring them?
Honoring service is what our theme is about.
I suppose that's why they don't let non-press people talk to the press. :-)