Obama kicks off inauguration weekend with volunteering
- Published: 19/01/2013 at 11:45 PM
- Online news:
Paintbrushes in hand, Barack and Michelle Obama kicked off inauguration weekend Saturday at a volunteer event at a Washington school, one of hundreds of such events organized across the US.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama paint a bookshelf at Burrville Elementary School during Day of Service on January 19, 2013 in Washington DC, as part of the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Paintbrushes in hand, Barack and Michelle Obama kicked off inauguration weekend at a volunteer event at the Washington school.
The president, wearing khaki pants and a button down shirt, and the first lady, in a purple shirt and black leggings, helped stain a bookshelf along with two members of a group that works to keep children in school, called City Year.
Though the first lady seemed to be working more quickly than the president at covering the wooden shelf with stain, Obama later joked that "Michelle said I did a fine job."
Meanwhile, at the National Mall, preparations were well underway for the main event on Monday, where between 500,000 and 800,000 people are expected attend Obama's public swearing in.
There has been an immense security build-up, with cameras and barricades covering much of the greenway leading up to the Capitol. Thousands of police will also fan the area on Monday: several at each street corner.
Obama added a day of service to the schedule of inauguration festivities during his first go-round in 2009, when the jeans-clad newly-elected president rolled up his sleeves to repaint a homeless shelter in the capital.
Speaking before a small crowd in the gymnasium of the Burrville Elementary School, Obama reminded the volunteers that the day of service was dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday was Tuesday and in whose honor each year, on the third Monday in January, the US marks a national holiday.
"He said everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major but if you're going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people," Obama said, paraphrasing King.
The president also thanked City Year and other similar groups, which, he said "show that there's a huge hunger on the part of young people to get involved, and to get engaged."
The first lady also spoke, telling the crowd to ask themselves, "as you make your way through life who are you pulling up with you?
"And as long as you're pulling somebody up with you you're doing the right thing," she said.
Earlier, vice president Joe Biden and 12 members of his family stopped at the DC Armory to help volunteers pack 100,000 care kits for deployed and wounded US soldiers, veterans and emergency personnel.
Hundreds of events were likewise planned across the country starting Saturday, including blood drives, community cleanups, clothing and food collections, and projects to spruce up schools.
Soldiers and their children are invited to an evening concert Saturday organized by the first lady, featuring a number of celebrity headliners including Katy Perry, three actors from the television show "Glee," Usher and the hip hop duo Black Violin.
Obama's second term will officially start on Sunday at noon, as dictated by the Constitution, after a private swearing in at the White House.
Public festivities are set for Monday, when Obama will re-take his oath of office in front of the Capitol before hundreds of thousands of spectators.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency