Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in for a sec- ond term as the 44th President of the United States on Jan. 21 in a ceremonial event.
The 57th Inauguration’s theme was “Faith in America’s Future.” The overall message of most speeches given that morning was equality, with many paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the country celebrated the national holiday.
The president was sworn in in front of a crowd of 800,000 on the west front of the U.S. Capitol Building. Beginning at 11:30 a.m., Sen. Charles Schumer opened the ceremony with a few remarks. As the chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Schumer opened by offering “infinite thanks” to the men and women of the armed services for their bravery.
In his opening remarks, the New York senator compared the finishing of the Capitol dome in 1863 to the journey America has yet to take. According to Schumer, the U.S. Capitol’s dome was unfinished during the Civil War. President Lincoln pushed to finish the dome project with much opposition. Others found the project too expensive for a country fighting a war. Lincoln believed the unfinished dome symbolized the division in the country. The dome was complete in 1863 and the statue of freedom was placed on top.
After Schumer delivered his remarks, the invocation was given by civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, the first woman to do so. Evers-Williams included in the invocation a blessing for the Obama administration as well as a tribute to King’s efforts.
Following the invocation, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor administered the Vice Presidential Oath of Office to Joe Biden.
Soon after Vice President Biden was sworn in, five-time Grammy winner James Taylor performed “America the Beautiful.” Following Taylor’s performance, Obama was administered the Presidential Oath of Office by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts Jr. Unlike the first time that Obama took the oath, when he and Roberts uttered some phrases incorrectly, Obama recited the oath without incident and used a Bible previously owned by King. At the official swearing in on Jan. 20, Obama used a Bible owned by President Lincoln.
President Obama delivered an inaugural address that spoke to the journey America still has left to trek. Many media outlets described it as a more assertive side of the president. Obama addressed the audience stating the importance of unity in helping make the world a better place for all. “Fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges,” Obama said. “That preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
President Obama paid homage to leaders of the past by integrating the words of historical American documents such as the Constitution.
Obama’s speech has been reported to be the platform for his second term. He addressed his stance on equality for members of the LGBTQ community and gun control, among other things.
“Our journey is not complete until all our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” he said. “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of the Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newton, know that they are cared for and cherished and are always safe from harm.”
The inaugural address also included the president’s stance on equal pay for women and the segregation among political parties.
Many people enjoyed the event despite one heckler’s anti-abortion rants. Layla, 11, enjoyed the end the most. “My favorite part was at the end when everyone was singing and stuff,” she said.
Kenya Simmons thought unity and change were the main points of the inaugural address. “I think it’s the most important part that he still is trying for change,” Simmons said.
As the program ended and Obama left the stage, many media outlets including CNN caught the final words he spoke to his family. As he turned to look on to the National Mall crowd, he asked his family to pause for a moment and said, “I want to take a look one more time. I’m not going to see this again.”
Following the ceremony, the first family participated in the Inaugural Parade. The parade featured floats honoring the home states of the president and vice president as well as floats dedicated to the civil rights movement and King.
Later that day, the Obamas and Bidens attended the Commander-in-Chief Ball, at which the invited guests were the men and women of the armed services. Jennifer Hudson performed Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” as the Obamas danced. President Obama sang a small snippet of the song on his campaign trail in 2012.