President Obama sworn in for second term
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 00:01
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Capitol and proclaimed to millions of people, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
On Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the first African American President Barack Obama was inaugurated for the second time in front of a crowd of 800,000.
Although Texas is a red state, five SMU journalism students were scattered amongst the crowd to be a part of this
Inauguration Day began in the early hours of the morning as thousands of Americans from all over the country walked to the National Mall to begin lining up. Many got an early start to avoid major traffic, security lines and not being able to sit in their seats, as happened in 2009.
Last inauguration, many visitors had to walk on the interstate to get to their entrance at Capitol Hill. Visitors with exclusive purple tickets had to go through the tunnel under the National Mall and were stuck underneath during the inaugural ceremony. Police officers blamed unprecedented crowds.
But this year was different.
“This is a lot easier this year. It is much more organized. You couldn’t bring food or water in four years ago, and when you stood up and looked back it was just a sea of people,” Shirley McCombs said.
McCombs travelled with her friend Stella Blair from Illinois to make this her fourth inauguration. She was present for both of President Clinton’s and for President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
She received her ticket by being a member of the Electoral College and through her position as the Secretary of the Democratic Party in Illinois and the State Central Committee woman of the 18th Congressional district.
McCombs and Blair knew Barack Obama before he became a U.S. State Senator, and they said they have enjoyed watching him evolve over the years into the President of the United States.
“It’s so exciting. There’s just something about him. When we first met him we knew he was going to be successful,” Blair said.
For many though, this inauguration was a first time experience. Howard and Nell Pizzo came from Michigan and got their tickets from being a part of the Electoral College.
For the Pizzos, this was an exciting time for the country to move forward under President Obama.
“I’m looking forward to going forward and him accomplishing some of his goals,” Nell Pizzo said.
Many people said that they were looking forward to President Obama accomplishing his goals of stabilizing the economy, working on climate change, immigration, gun control and health care.
“We need a progressive solution to the economy and deficit. It has to be progressive and start with the middle class,” Howard Pizzo said.
Most importantly, everyone was looking forward to cooperation between Congress and the president.
Around 9 a.m., the National Mall had almost completely filled up all the way to the Washington Monument. P.S. 22 from Staten Island began signing to get people excited for the festivities that were still three hours away.
Although everyone was waiting for hours, no one was complaining about the nice weather. “It’s just beautiful outside! So much better than freezing [temperatures] four years ago,” April Atilabede from Fairfax, VA. said.
As members of the House of Representatives and the Senate filed into their seats, Travis Monroe from Montana reflected on how monumental the date of the ceremony was.
“It’s kind of amazing it falls on MLK Jr. day. I think that’s what brought a lot of people here,” Monroe said. Monroe previously worked on the Hill for Sen. Baucus.
One of the two bibles used in the inauguration was the same bible that Dr. King used when he gave his “I Have A Dream Speech.”
The crowd was attentive and quiet as President Clinton, President Carter and Vice President Biden filed into their seats.
Everyone went wild as First Lady Michelle Obama, and finally President Obama, made their way outside.
The swearing in was just a small portion of the day and the moment that brought many to tears was President Obama’s inaugural address.
“[The inauguration] never fails to make one’s heart beat a little faster as it will today at the inauguration of President Obama,” Charles Schumer, Chariman of the Congressional Committee, said in his opening address.
As President Obama took the podium, he focused his address around the theme of equality.
“What makes us exceptional, what makes us America, is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago,” President Obama said.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
He then went into a powerful and compelling speech encouraging all Americans to take action.
“Decisions are upon us and we must act,” he said as he went on to refer to himself and the country as “you and I.”
President Obama announced he had plans of helping the economy, achieving sustainable energy, “respond to the threat of climate change”, ending the war in Afghanistan, and making marriage a right for all.
Obama is the first president to discuss gay marriage in an inaugural address.
He also addressed the changing times and the urgency of Congress and the presidency working together.