On January 21, incumbent President Barack Obama took his oath of office in front of a crowd of millions of Americans, including those who watched live in Washington D.C and those who watched on their television screens.
The president was sworn in on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and took the oath on two bibles, one that had belonged to Dr. King and one that had belonged to President Abraham Lincoln.
Students from the Law Center were scattered throughout the crowd (consisting of approximately a million people), ranging from the Capitol to the White House. Some were fortunate to get seated tickets; others woke up early to get a better glimpse of the President; and some were just content with simply being a part of the electric atmosphere.
Crowds of hundreds of thousands of people gathered around the colossal platform and the dome of the Capitol as Obama spoke for a total of eighteen minutes. He spoke of the United States needing to “be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice” and stressed values of common purpose and national unity.
Although some found Obama’s speech to be an inspirational performance, some political pundits have described his speech as a bold and stark departure from the conciliatory and bipartisan stance espoused in his first inaugural address. President Obama spoke forcefully in favor of gay rights, gave climate change center stage, and cited immigration reform as one of the main focuses of his second term: “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.”
The weather that day was warmer than it had been in previous days as the temperature hovered around a tolerable forty degrees; although many still complained about the biting cold, especially when getting through what some participants thought of as seemingly never-ending security checks.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee did not disappoint, as it lined up performances from Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and the illustrious James Taylor. As the forty-fourth president of the United States finally exited the stage, he turned around, paused, and gazed at the scene before him one last time. “I’m not going to see this again,” he said to those nearby.
As this unique day came to an end, some Georgetown Law students attended the Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where the President and the First Lady danced to Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
by Nicholas Barnabo, LL.M