WASHINGTON — When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, he will do so upon the Bible that his personal political hero, Abraham Lincoln, used for his own swearing in, in 1861.

Lincoln, America’s 16th president, served from 1861 until his assassination in 1865 and is widely revered for having preserved national unity by winning the Civil War and ending the practice of slavery.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, who, like Obama, was an Illinois legislator before he rose to the presidency.

Using Lincoln’s Bible is one of a few personal touches that Obama has put on the inaugural ceremony. Others include the inclusion of soul singer Aretha Franklin, evangelical megachurch leader Rick Warren, and a young poet to deliver the traditional inaugural poem.

Even without those details, the country’s 56th presidential inauguration would be anything but traditional: Obama is the first black president elected in the country’s history — a milestone many Americans considered impossible not long ago.

Obama will be sworn into office one day after the country observes Martin Luther King Day, a holiday that honors the inspirational black civil rights leader.

(To read more of this column by Heather Maher, Radio Free Europe, click here )