Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered on
Washington's national mall for the inauguration of Barack Obama as America's
44th president. The crowd is expected to swell to an estimated one to two
million looking on as Mr. Obama becomes the first African-American to take the
presidential oath of office.
As daylight broke over Washington, tens of
thousands had already packed the vast mall stretching out from the U.S. Capitol
building where Barack Obama will take the oath of office.
the early hours, Washington's subway system was crammed with people making their
way into the city to observe the inauguration.
One woman from
Pennsylvania said she was overwhelmed to be taking part in the historic event.
"I could not be happier or more proud," she said. "I am an 81 year old
black lady who has seen an awful lot in my lifetime. And never, in all of my
years, did I think that this day would come, and one of us would be in the White
House, doing more than taking care of someone."
President-elect Obama and his wife Michelle
left Blair House to attend St. John's Episcopal Church early in the day where
they participated in a brief service attended by family and friends.
the Obamas went to the White House for a brief visit with soon-to-be former
President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, before heading to the Capitol,
where the oath of office is administered.
Later, the traditional
inaugural parade will wind its way through central Washington, as then President
Obama makes his way to the White House to assume office.
hundreds of thousands of people jamming the national mall was Byron Miller and
his family visiting from San Antonio, Texas.
He says Barack Obama's
journey to the presidency is a feat for all Americans to savor, but one that
holds special meaning for those who descended from slaves.
"We have gone
from emancipation [from slavery] to inauguration. My emotions run from
exuberance to just [being] excited," Miller said.
In events leading up to
the historic occasion, Mr. Obama hosted a dinner for another African-American
trailblazer - retired General and former Secretary of State Colin
Reflecting his hope to be able to change the tone of politics in
Washington and usher in a new era of bipartisanship, Mr. Obama also hosted a
dinner for Senator John McCain, who he defeated in the November
Mr. Obama is expected to use his inaugural address to reassure
Americans amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the
1930's, and also urge them to greater public and national service.
a visit to a Washington shelter for homeless youth, Mr. Obama said Americans
need to adopt a long-term attitude of serving others and their
"If we are waiting for someone else to do something, it never
gets done, we are going to have to take responsibility [for our nation's
well-being]. All of us," Mr. Obama said. "And so this is not just a one-day
His speech is also expected to pay tribute to the slain civil
rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., without whose life's work and
sacrifice Mr. Obama's rise to power might not have been possible.
the ceremony, Mr. Obama attends a luncheon with members of Congress in the U.S.
Capitol before heading down Pennsylvania Avenue as part of the traditional
But the transition from the Bush administration to the
Obama administration will already be underway even before Mr. Obama arrives at
the White House.
About 20 officials who will serve the new president will
leave the Capitol immediately to take up their responsibilities and prepare for
a busy first day of the new Obama administration.