The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 8, 2024

Students flock to see Obama’s second inauguration, witness history

Four years ago, a crowd listened with incomparable passion and fervor. This year, a more tempered hope surrounded the steps of the Capital. Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second presidential term Jan. 20, and unofficially sworn in before the public Jan. 21.

About 700,000 people came to the National Mall on Monday to see Obama being sworn into office for the second time. Photo courtesy Laura Mazziotta.

Monday’s festivities marked the four-year anniversary of Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, when 1.8 million people lined up on Capitol Hill to make history by witnessing the swearing in of the first African-American president. Estimates said the crowd amounted to 700,000 this year, less than half its size in 2009.

Senior Katherine Durham braved the cold and crowds on Monday to witness the public inauguration. She went to see the parade, but was able to listen to the ceremony broadcasted from speakers.

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“I went to the inauguration so I could witness history being made,” she said. “But it was so cold that my fingers and toes were numb by the second hour we got there.”

Before the Presidential motorcade rode through the inaugural parade, it stopped at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where the President attended services at 8:30 a.m. before he arrived at the steps of the Capitol for the ceremony. Upon arrival, Obama drank coffee with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The President was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. He laid his hand on bibles from both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., upon whose birthday the event fell. First Lady Michelle Obama held the bibles while clad in a navy, silk, checkered coat by American designer Thom Browne.

Inaugural ceremony chairman Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the President. During his 18-minute speech, Obama discussed many issues he plans to address in his second term. Among them were climate change, partisan gridlock, contentious immigration issues and gay marriage. He did not touch at all on the recent issue of gun control.

Obama also reached across the political aisle to reiterate the Republican ideal that government is not the whole solution.

“We have never succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone,” he said.

Junior Laura Mazziotta sat among the crowd close to the National Mall. Her family got tickets through her mom, who works for the Associated Press. She sat close to the front and noticed the high energy around her, she said.

“People around me were cheering. Everyone was invested in Obama’s speech and cheering for everyone who came onto the platform,” Mazziotta said. “I enjoyed Obama’s speech. It was quick, short and to the point.”

President Obama is sworn into his second term in office as his daughters and wife look on. Photo courtesy Laura Mazziotta.

After the President’s speech, Schumer called several more people to the podium. James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson sang, and Richard Blanco delivered a short poem he’d composed. The most memorable performance was undoubtedly Beyoncé’s powerful rendition of the National Anthem, accompanied by the U.S. Marine Band, although it was later revealed that she had been lip-synching.

That evening, the Obamas greeted attendees at two inaugural balls at DAR Constitution Hall and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Despite the cold, Durham noticed the excitement around her in the stands. People were dancing to music from the speakers before the parade even started, she said.

“Everyone around me was in high spirits, making for a warm environment,” Durham said. “Inauguration is a time for new beginnings and the renewal of optimism.”

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