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Presidential Inauguration

President Barack Obama will be sworn-in to his second term on Sunday, January 20.

The public ceremony will be held on Monday, January 21.

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President Obama has been inaugurated for his second term in office.

President Obama’s second inauguration ended with several inaugural balls, featuring some of the biggest names in music.

Alicia Keys sang her hit song, “Girl on Fire,” and changed some of the words to “Obama’s on Fire.”

Jennifer Hudson was on stage at the Commander in Chief ball, and sang, “Let’s Stay Together,” by Al Green, as the first couple had their first dance of the second term.

But now that second term has started, and the President will need some bipartisan support if he wants to accomplish anything he listed in his inaugural speech.

“President Obama is now a lame duck.  That’s what second terms do to you,” said Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.  “He needs to, right off the bat, try to get something done.”

“Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts,” said President Obama. ” 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.”

“Decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall,” said the President.

WASHINGTON – After celebrating his second inauguration with a throng estimated at about 800,000, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spent the evening at more intimate affairs: 30,000 guests at two inaugural balls.

The Obamas first swung by the Commander in Chief’s Ball, where they danced in front of a sea of cell phone cameras to Jennifer Hudson’s performance of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together.” They then switched partners: the first lady danced with Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Timothy D. Easterling and the president danced with an Air Force Staff Sgt. Bria D. Nelson.

Obama sang a bit of the same song at a campaign fundraiser in Harlem last year.

The first lady wore a custom, ruby-colored gown designed by Jason Wu, who also designed her inaugural gown in 2009, and the president wore a tuxedo and white tie.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, also appeared at the two balls, dancing to Jamie Foxx performing Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Foxx portrayed the singer in the movie “Ray.”

The Bidens also switched partners with military members, the vice president dancing with Army Staff Sgt. Keesha Nicole Dentino and Mrs. Biden with Navy Petty Officer Patrick Figueroa.

Obama delivered the “thanks of the American people” to the members of the military at the service members’ ball.

“Thank you for volunteering, thank you for stepping up, thanks for making us strong, thank you for keeping us safe,” the commander-in-chief told the cheering revelers.

He also told them that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey had promised to sing, “so hold him to that.”

The Obamas also danced to “Let’s Stay Together” at the Inaugural Ball, also held in the convention center.

Hudson was one of 21 acts that were to perform at the two balls, including Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Far East Movement, fun., members of the cast of “Glee,” John Legend, Katy Perry, Marc Anthony, Mindless Behavior, Nick Cannon, Smokey Robinson, Soul Children of Chicago, Soundgarden, Stevie Wonder and Usher.

Keys changed the lyrics of her hit “Girl on Fire” from “This girl is on fire” to “Obama’s on fire.”

Organizers converted the convention center’s massive, bare-bones exhibit hall into a slightly less bare-bones ballroom. No chandeliers here, just a few drapes and decorations to spruce up the exposed ceiling and fluorescent lights. Revelers danced on the center’s industrial concrete floor.

Seen close to the stage were the first lady’s mother, Marian Robinson, and Obama adviser and family friend Valerie Jarrett. Former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina was seen in the crowd.

The Inaugural Ball was split between two floors in the building, and attendees were not allowed to go from floor to floor.

While Monday’s events were the only two official balls, there were others in the city around the inauguration.

On Sunday night, they included the Red, White and Blue Ball headlined by Lynyrd Skynyrd; the Hip Hop Ball, chaired by Russell Simmons with appearances by 2 Chainz, John Legend, Eva Longoria and Swizz Beatz; and the “Latino In Performance” and “Let Freedom Ring!” galas at the Kennedy Center.

On Monday, the Creative Coalition was putting on a ball with a performance by the Goo Goo Dolls, while the Young and Powerful Black Tie Ball and the Congressional Black Caucus Inaugural Ball were also taking place in the city.

Sponsors threw a ball for George Washington a week after his inauguration in New York in 1789, but the celebrations were established as a tradition with the inauguration of James Madison in Washington in 1809.

The Obamas dashed around Washington to 10 balls in 2009, but like many things in his second inauguration — smaller crowds, shorter lines, shorter speeches — the number was reduced.

President Bill Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997 holds the record for most balls with 14. George W. Bush had eight balls in 2001 and nine in 2005.

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President Obama and the First Lady shared their first dance to “Let’s Stay Together” sung by Chicago’s Jennifer Hudson.

Supporters who didn’t make the trip to Washington D.C. had a ball in Chicago, as they celebrated President Obama’s second inauguration and the Martin Luther King holiday.

WVON radio hosted a party at the Grand Ballroom at 63rd and Cottage Grove, Monday night.

“It’s a tremendous day, not only for black people,” said Raymond Rice, who attended the event. “Everyone should be proud.”

President Barack Obama took the ceremonial oath of office Monday morning.

Up to 900,000 people were expected to watch the ceremony in person and outside the U.S. Capitol building, about half as many that filled the National Mall for the first one, four years ago.

Monday night, megastar Alicia Keys joined a who’s-who of celebrities gathered to celebrate the inaugural address calling for a more united America.   In addition to Hollywood stars and politicians of the past and present, some Chicagoans drove through the night just to be there.

In one of the myriad emotional signs of the Chicago connection to all this– The South Shore Drill Team passed the president– their wish to see him in person was granted. Close by on the Capitol Stage, an old friend, his former Chief of Staff, Chicago’s mayor, naturally giving his speech high marks.

President Obama was actually sworn into office on Sunday in compliance to the U.S. Constitution stating that the President must be sworn in by January 20th.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had President Obama recite the oath at the White House.

That was held in the Blue Room, which is an oval-shaped reception space in the president’s official residence.

It was witnessed by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, where he was joined by his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters Malia and Sasha.

Vice President Biden was also sworn in, at a separate event.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor performed the honors at Biden’s home at the Naval Observatory in Washington.

By David Lauter, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama publicly took the oath of office for his second term Monday in a ceremony heavily laced with references to the country’s long struggle toward equality for its African American citizens.From an invocation by the widow of a slain leader of the civil rights movement that opened the formal proceedings, to the two Bibles on which Obama took the oath, one of which belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the other to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the symbols of the nation’s 57th inaugural ceremony traced the historic arc that led toward the nation’s first black president.A flag-waving, cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands applauded as Vice President Joe Biden took his oath from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, then a few minutes later, when Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. administered the oath to the President.Four years ago, Obama took office with the country in the midst of two wars and the worst economic crisis in more than half a century. His second inauguration arrives with one war over, the other winding down and the economy recovering, but with Washington dominated by a bitter political stalemate that reflects a deep partisan divide in the nation.Obama is expected to use his inaugural speech — typically one of the most-watched events of a presidency — to address that divide, aides said.”He is going to talk about the fact that our political system doesn’t require us to resolve all of our disputes or settle all of our differences,” senior Obama political advisor David Plouffe said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But it does impel us to act where there should be, and is, common ground.”

The inaugural ceremonies, themselves, highlighted the idea of bipartisanship and continuity of American democracy. Two of Obama’s predecessors, Democrats Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, were among the dignitaries gathered at the Capitol’s West Front. So, too, were many of the congressional Republicans who have battled Obama through the past four years. The country’s two living former Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, were not present; the elder Bush recently was recently released from a  hospital in Houston after a bout with bronchitis.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said before the ceremony that he expected most Republicans to attend the inaugural ceremony, a historic moment regardless of party. He noted that he had prime seats for Obama’s first inaugural and regretted not snapping any photos of the proceedings. “I’m going to try to this time,” he said.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a fiery conservative, said: “My thought for today is, this is a constitutional event and our forefathers would be proud we’re following the directions they gave us.”

“Tomorrow we’ll start the political discussion.”

Overall, of course, the crowd,  as is typical with inaugural celebrations, was heavily dominated by the president’s supporters, who cheered loudly as Obama’s motorcade arrived at the Capitol from the White House. They cheered again as the Obamas’ daughters, Malia and Sasha, were introduced and then, a few minutes later, for First Lady Michelle Obama.

In keeping with the intense enthusiasm that Obama’s presidency has generated among African Americans, the audience was disproportionately black. Several spectators commented on the special significance of the swearing-in taking place on the nation’s Martin Luther King Jr. day observance.

“It’s particularly special that today is the MLK holiday,” said David Anderson, 43, who traveled from Tampa, Fla. “It’s kind of predestined. You can’t get better than that.”

Ed  Jennings, 44, who sported a knitted Obama cap, said he anticipated the president would urge unity in his inaugural address.

“It’ll be a summary of where this country is. There was a fierce debate about where our country is going, and he won,” he said.

Hazel Carter, 90, of Springfield, Ohio, attended the last inauguration and wasn’t going to miss this one. “I prayed, God, just let me keep breathing until the inauguration,” she said with a laugh.

“The crowd isn’t nearly the crowd of the first time. The anticipation isn’t what it was,” she said. “It’s a little more subdued, but beautiful. Beautiful. I love it.”

Seated next to her, Thelma Lawson, 61, a nurse from Chicago, said she had not attended the swearing-in four years ago, “but now I am so excited because I’m in the midst of what is history being made twice.”

Chinwe Aldridge of Fort Washington, Md., said she and her husband had not decided to come to the ceremony until Sunday night, after some prodding from their two children.

“I told them we could have a better shot  at home on television,” she said. “They said they had to be here. Those are big words from little kids.”

At 9 a.m., the Washington region’s mass transit agency had counted 189,000 riders on its rail system, somewhat less than half of the record-setting crowd that jammed trains four years ago but more in line with previous second inaugurals.

Obama officially took the oath of office on Sunday in a low-key ceremony at the White House, shortly before his second term officially began at noon. In keeping with a tradition of not holding the public inauguration ceremony and parade on Sundays, the president is scheduled to repeat the oath at the Capitol on Monday.

Temperatures hovered in the low 30s — considerably warmer than four years ago — as spectators began gathering early in the morning. Officials were expecting about half a million spectators, down from the 1.8 million who crowded onto the Mall four years ago for the historic first swearing-in of an African American president but comparable to the crowds for the second inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Susan White, a Washington schoolteacher, her daughter Camille, 13, and her friend, Rachel, 13, said they left home at 4:30 a.m. and needed an hour to get through the elaborate security surrounding the inauguration site, but three hours later, they were still eagerly anticipating the events to come.

Kerry Artis, a social services case worker from North Carolina, said she arrived at the mall at about 5 a.m., eager to see the inauguration after missing it four years ago. She said she was excited, despite the cold, because “everybody’s here for one cause.”

Obama began his day along with his family and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, with a service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House. After a brief return to the White House, the first family is scheduled to take the short ride to the Capitol. The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to begin shortly after 11 a.m. EST.

After Obama delivers his inaugural address, he plans to attend the traditional luncheon with members of Congress at the Capitol, again joined by the First Lady and the Bidens. They then are to watch the inaugural parade from the reviewing stand set up outside the White House.

The day is scheduled to end with the traditional inaugural balls.

Staff writers Rich Simon, Melanie Mason, Lisa Mascaro and Joe Tanfani contributed to this report.

Some Chicago-area residents made the trip to Washington D.C. today to witness the inauguration of President Obama.  They share their thoughts on the experience with WGN’s Frank Holland.

Beyonce performs country’s National Anthem with the US Marine Band

A transcript of President Obama’s remarks, as released by the White House, are below:

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

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 a living equal to their efforts.  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.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.


You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.