The Inauguration of Barack Obama: Live Report
- Published: 21/01/2013 at 11:45 PM
- Online news:
With the end of official events, AFP is closing its live report on the second Inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States. The parade is expected to last a few hours, even as the sun sets in Washington. Today's events will be capped off with dozens of unofficial parties but only two official Inaugural Balls, one for members of the military and another for supporters.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk along Pennsylvania Avenue during the parade following Obama's second Inauguration on January 21, 2013 in Washington.
The big question of the night is what, and importantly who, Michelle Obama wears.
2153 GMT: The presidents stands as the parade begins and the military representatives pass the viewing stand. Among the first marching bands is from his high school in Hawaii. He flashes the iconic "hang loose" hand signal as they pass and says "Aloha."
2147 GMT: Secret Service agents line the row behind the first family as the girls pull out their i-phones and begin to snap pictures, including one of their parents kissing.
2144 GMT: To the strains of "Hail to the Chief," Obama is announced at the viewing stand and walks toward his front-row seat with the first lady and their daughters, greeting supporters with hugs and slaps on the back. The Bidens are seated to their left.
2133 GMT: At the viewing stand, the parade is on hold as they wait for the Obamas to take their seats. Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, can be seen in the front row of the viewing stand with her husband and children.
2119 GMT: After reaching the end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Obamas get back into their car. The Bidens are still on the street, however, and the vice president has begun shaking hands with supporters lining the parade route. He poses for pictures and crosses back and forth across the street to greet as many people as he can.
2110 GMT: The president and first lady have stepped out of the limo again and are walking the last few meters to the viewing stand to deafening cheers from supporters. They are steps from the White House inside a secured area. This part of Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to traffic after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
2057 GMT: Slotted to appear towards the front of the parade are two bands and a float from Obama's home state Hawaii, a Chinese-American folk dance troupe from Delaware, the Ballet Folklorico De La Raza from Colorado and Palmview High School mariachi band from Texas.
2052 GMT: After a six or seven minute stroll, the Obamas get back in their car to continue the parade. They got back in right in front of the Old Post Office Pavillion, which the federal government recently gave famous "birther" and Obama critic Donald Trump the rights to redevelop into a luxury hotel.
2047 GMT: The president and first lady step out of their limousine and begin to walk and wave to the cheering crowd.
2035 GMT: The parade MC, Brotman, a Washington sports institution since the days he was the voice of the erstwhile Senators baseball team, is working from a 131-page script in a white binder provided by the Presidential Inauguration Committee. But his secret weapon is a second thinner binder marked "trivia." It's his go-to book in the event that the unexpected happens, like a flat tire on a float, so he can keep talking to the crowd all along the route if the parade slips a bit off schedule.
2027 GMT: With the sun breaking through the winter sky and a temperature well above freezing, Obama has been spared the worst Inaugural weather. Since the event has been scheduled in January since 1937, the weather can be quite miserable. In 1985, Ronald Reagan was forced to cancel the parade and hold the ceremony inside because frigid temperatures made the situation dangerous.
In 1841, William H. Harrison refused to wear an overcoat or hat as a cold rain fell on his two-hour address. Within days, he developed pneumonia and died exactly one month later.
2022 GMT: The presidential limousine, dubbed "The Beast" for its high-tech security measures, takes to the streets for the slow, short drive down Pennsylvania Avenue flanked by dozens of police cars and motorcycles. Supporters can be heard cheering "Obama! Obama! Obama!"
2011 GMT: Accompanied by their wives, Obama and Biden descend the Capitol steps to view the troops at the start of the parade.
1958 GMT: The big question about the parade is how much of it the president will walk. In 1921, Warren G. Harding became the first president to travel to and from his Inauguration in a car. Jimmy Carter, in 1977, was the first to walk the entire route. Security has tightened since then, however, and in 2009, Obama walked only a few hundred yards in two short bursts.
1948 GMT: The luncheon concludes and the VIPs head to the start of the parade.
The best seat at the parade belongs to Charlie Brotman, an 85-year-old native Washingtonian who serves as the official announcer of the procession along Pennsylvania Avenue. He's done it 15 times before, for 11 presidents over 63 years, and he loves it.
"They call me the eyes and ears of the president," he told AFP Lifestyle Editor Robert MacPherson, explaining how -- from the press risers across from the presidential review stand -- he has a slightly higher vantage point from which to introduce the bands and floats that will stream by over 2-1/2 hours. It's on Brotman's cue that Obama will know when to stand, when to put his hand on his heart or when just to smile and applaud.
1940 GMT: Obama takes the podium at the luncheon and promises "extraordinarily brief" remarks. He thanks Biden and the congressional leadership for lunch and the warm welcome.
1936 GMT: The president and vice president are presented with their Lennox vases and toasted with California champagne as dessert is served.
1922 GMT: After lunch, Obama will review the troops and the traditional Inaugural parade will start. The inaugural parade began as a militia escort of the new president from the Capitol to the White House and has evolved into a more festive parade, with floats and marching bands.
1844 GMT: At the luncheon, it is tradition for the president and vice president to be given gifts from lawmakers on behalf of the American people. Each will be given an official photograph of the swearing-in and a flag that flew over the Capitol today.
In addition, both will be given engraved crystal vases made specifically for the occasion by the Lenox Corporation. Lenox has made a presidential gift for the last seven Inaugurations.
1830 GMT: Earlier today, an event organizer told CNN that at his first Inaugural lunch, Obama hardly ate. He spent the hour greeting all the VIP guests in the room instead.
1812 GMT: The president and first lady enter the hall for lunch and are seated on the dais. The tables are set with full centerpieces of lush orange flowers.
In his welcome, Senator Shumer notes that the menu was set by the spouses of the congressional leadership, so he calls it "a true bipartisan effort."
1757 GMT: The three-course lunch features a meal fit for such a august occasion.
Guests will begin with steamed lobster in New England clam chowder sauce with sauteed spinach and sweet potato "hay." The second course is hickory grilled bison with red potato horseradish cake and a wild huckleberry reduction. The finishing touch will be apple pie with sour cream ice cream, aged cheese and honey. The wine, cheese, apples and honey are all from New York state, the home of committee chair Senator Chuck Shumer.
1750 GMT: The Obamas and Bidens head into Statuary Hall for the official Inaugural Luncheon. The lunch, hosted by the congressional inaugural committee, is one of the most exclusive events in Washington. Out of the 1,600 people honored with a spot on the podium, only 220 get to eat with the new president.
1739 GMT: Obama sits at a desk in the President's Room in the US Capitol to formally nominate some cabinet secretaries, including Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary and John Kerry to be Secretary of State. Before signing, he joked, "I am proclaiming 'Peace, love and good will toward men.'"
1732 GMT: The president and his party leave the podium, but Obama pauses for almost a full minute at the top of the stairs. He can be seen taking in the view out onto the National Mall where hundreds of thousands of people are cheering his second term.
1729 GMT: Pop superstar Beyonce takes the microphone to sing the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The president and guests stand with their hands on their hearts as is the tradition, although Senator Mary Landrieu snaps a smartphone photo of the singer.
1727 GMT: Dr. Luis Leon offers a benediction. Leon is the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church. The church, right across Lafayette Park from the White House is known as the church of the presidents. New or returning presidents have attended services there on inauguration weekend 10 times since 1933, including Obama this morning.
1723 GMT: Richard Blanco steps to the microphone to offer a poem written for the Inauguration. Born in Spain to Cuban parents, Blanco was raised in New York and Miami. He is the first Hispanic and the first openly gay man to present a poem at a presidential swearing-in.
1718 GMT: Pop star Kelly Clarkson, accompanied by the Marine Band, sings the iconic "My Country 'tis of Thee." Clarkson was the first winner of the singing competition American Idol in 2002. She has since won two Grammys and a clutch of other awards for her top-10 hits.
1711 GMT: Obama finishes his address, which was a brief 15 minutes, kisses his family again and takes his seat for more pomp and circumstance. His speech touched on civil and gay rights, inequality and included a full paragraph on the controversial issue of global warming.
He also vowed to maintain the United States' engagement around the world.
"America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has the greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom."
1704 GMT: Obama urges a divided America to come together to address challenges from the economy to education to infrastructure.
"Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people," Obama says. "We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anyone else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of god but also in our own."
1658 GMT: Obama begins his second Inaugural address. Inaugural addresses hold a significant place in US history and many continue to be quoted years later.
Will we hear such a turn-of-phrase today as Franklin D. Roosevelt's "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," or John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
1653 GMT: The president is honored with a 21-gun salute, the echo of which caught some far back in the crowd by surprise.
1650 GMT: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office and Obama is sworn in for a second term with his hand on two Bibles. One of the Bibles belonged to president Abraham Lincoln and the other, slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
1649 GMT: Singer-songwriter James Taylor, a long-time Obama supporter, steps to the microphone with his guitar to sing "America the Beautiful."
1646 GMT: Biden takes the oath as vice president with his hand on his family Bible.
1645 GMT: Senator Lamar Alexander introduces Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to administer the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden.
1641 GMT: The US Park Police say they have closed the National Mall to more spectators due to crowds. They do not release estimates of crowd sizes in Washington.
1634 GMT: Activist Myrlie Evers-Williams is offering an invocation. She is the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars and the first lay person and the first woman to be given the honor.
'We come at this time to ask blessings upon our leaders. The president, vice president, members of congress, all elected and appointed officials, of the United States of America. We are here to ask blessings upon our armed forces, blessings upon all who contribute to the essence of the American spirit, the American dream. The opportunity to become whatever our mankind, womankind, allows us to be. This is the promise of America."
After she closes, the president holds his eyes closed in prayer for several seconds and finally can be seen whispering "Amen."
1628 GMT: Senator Chuck Shumer, the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies opens the official ceremony.
This swearing-in is symbolic only. Because the constitution dictates that the president's term ends at noon on January 20, Obama was officially sworn-in at the White House on Sunday. By tradition, if Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the public events are held the next day.
1624 GMT: Grinning, Obama is announced and walks to the platform. He kisses all the women in his family and Jill Biden. He also greets other dignitaries and Supreme Court justices. He is wearing a light blue tie, dark suit and overcoat. He is seated in front of his family.
1620 GMT: As the president prepares to walk onto the platform, TV cameras show hundreds of thousands of flag-waving supporters cheering from the National Mall. Although the crowd was expected to be half the record 1.8 million people gathered for his historic swearing in in 2009, a significant number has gathered nonetheless.
They can be heard shouting "Obama, Obama" from the back as the Marine band plays.
1619 GMT: Biden is welcomed to the platform and joins his family.
1616 GMT: First Lady Michelle Obama is announced. She is wearing is wearing a navy Thom Browne coat and dress. The custom fabric was made for the occasion, inspired by a the style of a man’s silk tie. The belt she is wearing is from J.Crew and her necklace was designed by Cathy Waterman. She is also wearing J.Crew shoes. She added purple leather gloves that echo the outfits of her daughters. At the end of the Inaugural festivities, the outfit and accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives.
Thom Browne is a favorite of the first lady's. She wore one of his dresses at the Democratic National Convention and recycled it for the last presidential debate. She wore gloves and shoes from J. Crew in 2009, as did both girls.
Browne, who is in Paris for his menswear show was yesterday, told Women's Wear Daily, says from Paris "amazing and humbling."
1610 GMT: Obama's two daughters, 14-year-old Malia and 11-year-old Sasha, are introduced along with their grandmother Marian Robinson.
Both girls are in shades of purple. Malia Obama is wearing a J.Crew ensemble. Sasha Obama is wearing a Kate Spade coat and dress. Both wore outfits from J. Crew in 2009.
1606 GMT: Vice President Joe Biden's three children, Beau, Hunter and Ashley are introduced to the stage. Beau is holding a massive Bible that has been in the Biden family since the 1890s and is decorated with a Celtic cross. Biden has used that Bible every time he has taken an oath of office.
1603 GMT: A-list celebrities are already on the scene to perform at the ceremony, including recording artists Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson. Long-time Obama backer James Taylor is also due to perform. He sang at the Democratic National Convention as well.
1558 GMT: Former president Jimmy Carter is being welcomed to the platform, along with his wife Rosalyn. Bill Clinton is also attending the ceremony with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Remarkably, former president George W. Bush declined to attend, citing the poor health of his father, former president George H. W. Bush, who recently left a Houston, Texas hospital after a two-month stay.
1555 GMT: Obama has just arrived at the US Capitol for his ceremonial swearing in for his second and final term.
WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on the second Inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency