If every citizen of Franklin County decided to take a trip to Washington, D.C., with the residents of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown and Erie on the same day, it still would not be as many as the number of people who showed up for the 57th Presidential Inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21.
Inaugural festivities began Monday morning as people crowded onto the 146 acres of the National Mall to watch the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol.
Some started arriving as early as 4 a.m. to get a good spot on the Mall in the hopes they could steal a glimpse of the president or one of the star-studded guests.
When the ceremony began around 11:30 a.m., it was estimated that there were 800,000 to 900,000 people packed into the viewing area.
Despite the cold, the mood of the crowd was friendly and energetic as strangers made polite conversation with their neighbors, discussing where they traveled from and why they came.
Many journeyed thousands of miles to be part of the celebration, traveling from states like Texas and California to share the historical day with one another.
The swearing-in ceremony lasted a little more than an hour, with musical performances by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé.
Myrlie Evers-Williams gave the inaugural prayer while Richard Blanco read his poem titled “One Today,” written specifically for the inaugural celebration, encapsulating the unity of the daily lives of Americans.
As the ceremony continued, Vice President Joe Biden was sworn into his second term by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who became the first Hispanic juror to administer an oath of office.
When President Barack Obama took the oath, it was his fourth time — making him the only two-term president to ever do so.
In 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts made a mistake in the wording of the Constitutionally-required oath requiring Obama to swear the oath again the following day.
This year the official first day of the presidential term, Jan. 20, fell on a Sunday, resulting in the 35-word oath of office being recited two times yet again.
However, the multiple oaths sworn were not the only historical happening of the day.
The moment came when Obama gave his inaugural address; rousing tears, chants and cheers from the massive audience while hitting on issues the country is facing and challenging America to rise to its adversities.
The inaugural theme “Faith in America’s Future” was carried throughout the passionate speech by using the words “We, the people” continually, as a reminder that the Constitution continues to be the true foundation of the country.
He talked about peaceful times after the war, the economy and the tragedies that have befallen our country. He went on to discuss the future challenges our nation faces, such as climate change and global warming, saying, “we will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Obama’s defining moment came when he became the first president to not only announce support of gay rights earlier in his term, but also to state it in his inaugural address and verify his steadfast support.
“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,” Obama said.
This statement gained cheers from the Inauguration crowd on the Mall, much like other moments in Obama’s speech that made an impact on the American flag-waving crowd.
Once the ceremony concluded, there was a mass migration to Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade later that afternoon.
The route went from the Capitol to the White House and featured performances from all 50 states, military bands, and the president and vice president appearing out of their armored cars to wave at the crowd. People stood in windows and on rooftops along the parade route to catch a glimpse of the action.
A cold day in Washington, D.C., became a day full of hope, community and celebration as almost 1 million people gathered in a sea of red, white and blue to be a part of the 57th Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama and witness history being made again.
Obama continued to make history by stating his adamant concern for environmental issues and his resolute decision for equal rights for gay Americans, being the only president to do so in an inaugural address.
Obama demanded political differences be put aside for the sake of progress, and challenged every citizen to take on the task of rebuilding America together.
Throughout his address, Obama’s message was clear: he plans to accomplish a lot in the next four years, and he plans on doing it alongside every American.