The President Begins His Second Term
Barack Obama takes the oath of office in the nation's 57th inauguration ceremony
TOP: A crowd of more than 800,000 spectators gathered to see the Inauguration. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)
CENTER: The Inauguration is held every four years at the U.S. Capitol building. (Francis Miller / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images)
BOTTOM: This year's Inauguration took place on Martin Luther King Day. (Kyodo via AP Images)
On Monday, President Barack Obama began his second term in office.
Actually, his second term began the day before. The Constitution says that a President’s term begins on January 20. So there was a small, official swearing-in at the White House on Sunday. But on Monday—which was also Martin Luther King Day—a public inaugural event was held in the nation’s capital. President Obama took a ceremonial oath of office and delivered his inaugural address.
OUR JOURNEY IS NOT COMPLETE
More than 800,000 people from across the country crowded the National Mall and the lawn in front of the Capitol to be part of history and hear the President’s speech.
In his inaugural address, President Obama told the nation that there’s a lot to do. “Our journey is not yet complete,” the President said.
The only way to reach the end of the journey, he added, is together.
"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," the President said. "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."
President Obama also used his speech to lay out the issues he wants to tackle in his second term. These include reducing the deficit, immigration reform, combating climate change, and achieving equality for all Americans.
Once again, the President said these goals can only be achieved through cooperation.
“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,” President Obama said. “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it—so long as we seize it together.”
A DEAFENING CROWD
The President’s message of unity resonated with the people who were at the inauguration.
The crowd listened intently and carefully throughout the speech. They applauded a lot, and even tried to get a chant of “Obama! Obama!” going. At various times, the crowd roared so loudly it was deafening. The roar would start at the front of the Capitol, then spread down through the people gathered on the Mall.
Among the thousands who squeezed into a small area on the south lawn of the Capitol was Becky Thoroughgood. She traveled from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to be part of Monday’s historical event.
“I like how he tried to give a message of hope about the economy, and about how everyone has opportunities so we can be who we are supposed to be,” Thoroughgood told the Kids Press Corps.
Michelle Wyatt agreed. She came from Little Rock, Arkansas, to hear the President speak.
“What stood out for me is unity, that all men are created equal. That’s the way it should be,” Wyatt said. “[His speech] was right on target for what’s going on in the country.”
A DAY TO REMEMBER
Monday’s national holiday honors Martin Luther King, a famous minister whose main aim was to bring racial equality to the country. He led peaceful protests and made many speeches. His most important speech is known as "I Have a Dream."
In 1968, King was killed. But his dream of equality for all lives on, as do the results of his work.
"It's almost like fate and history coming together," says Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights leader who was close to King. "If it hadn't been for Martin Luther King Jr., there would be no Barack Obama as President."