Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan government economist and a White anthropologist, was sworn in to his second term as president of the United States on Jan. 21, taking his oath with his hand touching Bibles owned by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.
Under a cloudy sky that later turned a perfect blue, Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, began his second term as 800,000-900,000 men, women and children gathered at the Capitol and on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Spectators lucky enough to gain access to an area near the Capitol pushed and maneuvered their way into the perfect spot. As the ceremony commenced, a sea of smart phones was raised in the air to capture each moment.
The event fittingly fell on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Obama’s message of equality and freedom harkened back to the immortal words of the late civil rights hero.
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn an equal living to their efforts,” Obama said. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Before Obama took the stage, Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, delivered a stirring invocation. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir performed a moving rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
“American Idol” songstress Kelly Clarkson performed “My Country 'Tis of Thee” and veteran soft rocker James Taylor crooned “America the Beautiful.” It was later disclosed that Grammy award-winning singer Beyonce’s touching take on the “National Anthem” was lip synced.
While reports speculated that this year's inauguration wouldn't compare to the previous event, it was apparent that many returned to the District this year to experience the unforgettable occasion once again.
Katrina Carlton, 35, of Baltimore, said that after attending the event four years ago, she was determined to return. Luckily, she won tickets to attend this year’s ceremony in a lottery.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I am just in tears right now. This is the best day ever….Obama hit all the right marks and said all the right things.”
Carlton’s friend, Charnna Copelland, 40, also of Baltimore, echoed her sentiments.
“He hit everything as far as immigration, equal rights, all of that,” she said. “It was awesome.”
Mariesa Haseltine, 31, who traveled to the District from Memphis, Tenn. explained that the event was a special birthday gift to herself.
“I was here four years ago, so it was a part of my birthday celebration to come back,” she said. “Last time I was at the Washington Monument, but this year I was [closer], so it was excellent to be in visual contact with the president.”
Haseltine said that she started to tear up as Obama touched on topics that hit home for her.
“It tugged at the heart strings—equality for everyone was the focus of the message and I think that it was something that was super-positive that we need,” she said.
Click on the following link to see photos from the Inauguration Parade: http://youtu.be/zuO1KX7mXwY