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President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration

January 22nd, 2013

Obama's 2nd Inauguration, Jan. 21, 2013. Photo credit: White House/Sonya Hebert/Public Domain

Remember that incredibly long and grueling presidential campaign last year between Mitt Romney and President Obama … that President Obama ultimately won during the election in November?

Well, yesterday was the reward: the Inauguration!

And now President Obama can begin his second term as President of the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people sat in the cold to witness history as President Barack Obama was publicly sworn in as the 44th President of the United States yesterday. Millions more watched on TV.

If you had a little trouble sitting through the whole thing at home, not to worry. Even President Obama’s own 11 year-old daughter, Sasha, apparently yawned during her father’s history-making inauguration speech.

But it’s rare to get to see history happening in real-time. And in case you missed it, here’s a great video montage summary by NBC News.

The Inauguration is a ceremony steeped in history, tradition, and symbolism.

Mr. Obama was sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Roberts — as was the case four years ago during President Obama’s first inauguration. They actually messed it up that time and needed to have a private do-over just in case, but they did much better this time.

The President was officially sworn-in privately on Sunday.

Private swearing in January 20, 2013. Photo credit: Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson

Yesterday was for the public to witness.

President Obama took his oath of office placing his hand on both President Abraham Lincoln’s Bible as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Bible (the top one is Martin Luther King’s, the bottom one is Abraham Lincoln’s according to reports). Dr. King’s family said, “We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the oath of office using his Bible.”

The oath and address:

Yesterday, of course, was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — and the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech . Much of Dr. King’s work during the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s laid the groundwork for President Obama to be able to become the first black president of the United States.

President Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday reflected on how much progress America has made since Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, but he also talked about how much further we have to go, often repeating in his speech, “Our journey is not complete.”

He specifically talked about greater equality for women who often get paid less than men for doing the same job, more equality for same-sex couples , and more opportunities for young immigrants who have lived here and gone to school here to become American citizens.

Historical significance of inaugurations:

He also said, “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.”

He made another important reference to children’s futures when he said, “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.”

He also vowed that America would take more action to protect future generations from the worldwide impacts of a changing climate.

He then called on all of us to take action saying, “You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.”

The entire ceremony:

The ceremony was rounded out by patriotic songs sung by Beyonce, James Taylor, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and Kelly Clarkson (you may remember she too was elected by millions of people — as American Idol’s first winner).

There was also an invocation, which is like an appeal to a spiritual power, to help guide us. That was delivered by Myrlie Evers-Williams. She is the wife of Medgar Evers, who was also part of the civil rights movement and who was shot and killed in his driveway in 1963 because of his work for equality.

A poem called “One Today” was read by Richard Blanco. Mr. Blanco is an immigrant from Spain — and it was the first time an immigrant, a Latino, and an openly gay person was the U.S. inauguration poet.

The prayer, called a benediction, was read by Reverend Dr. Luis Leon. He was a refugee as child, coming from Cuba.

Only 17 presidents in history have won re-election. It was the 57th Inauguration.

More often than not, inaugurations are the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. This time, of course, it’s a continuation of one leader’s presidency. But it was still historic. Even high-ranking Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, seemed to want to help himself to a ceremonial pen that President Obama had just used, as you can see at the end of this video. President Obama graciously gave Mr. Reid one of his own.

But perhaps more telling, President Obama took a moment on his way out of his inaugural ceremony at the Capitol building to turn around and pause. He looked out over the crowds at what had just taken place. Then he said, “I want to take a look one more time. I’m not going to see this again.”

Photo courtesy: The White House via Twitter

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