WASHINGTON: Among the throngs visiting Washington for the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama was David Richardson, 45, of Atlanta, with his children, Camille, 5, and Miles, 8 — all bundled up in hats, scarves and mittens. Richardson said he wanted his children to “see history” firsthand and “witness that anything is possible through hard work.”
Vicki Lyons, 51, from Lakewood, Colo., who describes herself as “mostly Republican,” said she didn’t vote for Obama but called the inaugural experience “surreal” and “like standing in the middle of history.”
Said Lyons: “No matter who the president is, everybody needs to do this at least once.”
A first, of sorts, at this inaugural.
For the first time in more than three decades, there was neither a Clinton nor a Bush on either the departing or the incoming presidential ticket. Since 1981, every year until now has seen someone from one of the two famous political families front-and-center on the inaugural platform.
In 1981 and 1985, it was George H.W. Bush as vice president to Ronald Reagan, followed four years later by Bush as president. In 1993, with Bush looking on, Bill Clinton took the oath as president and again four years later in 1997. Then, a departing Clinton took to the inaugural platform in 2001 as George W. Bush was sworn in. Bush had a second inauguration in 2005, and then witnessed the inauguration four years later, in 2009, of Barack Obama.
While Bill Clinton may not have been in the front row during Obama’s second inaugural on Monday, Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, did join lawmakers and other dignitaries on the inaugural platform. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, also attended the ceremonies at the Capitol’s west front.
It didn’t all go off without a hitch.
Near the Washington Monument, people milled through the crowd of thousands to get a glimpse of the 57th presidential inauguration — only to find that the Jumbotron was cutting in and out and they couldn’t hear the speakers. Some in the crowd could be heard booing their disappointment.
Others didn’t make it to their destination.
Cheryl Tate, 52, of Flint, Mich., and her friend Karen Pugh, 43, gave up after a long walk from RFK stadium, where their tour bus had parked. “People keep telling us a few more blocks, a few more blocks,” Tate said.
Instead, they decided to turn around in hopes of finding a nearby restaurant to watch Obama on television.
Wondering why Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in Sunday for his second term hours before the president?
The early hour had to do with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is promoting her memoir, “My Beloved World,” and had to catch a train to New York to make a Manhattan bookstore appearance that afternoon.
The president and vice president typically are sworn in one after the other, just before noon on Jan. 20. — as Obama was at the White House by Chief Justice John Roberts. Biden was sworn in at 8:21 a.m. EST at his official residence at the Naval Observatory.
He escorted Sotomayor out immediately afterward and explained to more than 100 guests there as witnesses that he would be gone for a little while because he had to meet Obama for a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns.
“I will be back, they tell me, in 40 minutes,” Biden said. “I hope some of you will still be here.”
Obama helped stain a bookshelf at an elementary school in southeast Washington over the weekend, then later marveled at how stylishly his wife carried out the community service project while he had a problem with achy knees.
For the project, Mrs. Obama wore a purple-and-black long-sleeved top, black bottoms and black boots, not typical wardrobe choices for a painter.
They had gone to Burrville Elementary School to help spruce it up, one of hundreds of events across the country during Saturday’s National Day of Service that opened inauguration weekend. Hundreds of volunteers joined the Obamas at the school.
“I hear reports that the very young people did some really good work and some of the older folks like me, who it hurt getting our knees kind of bending down a little bit, we were able to manage also, and somehow Michelle looked stylish the whole time she was doing it.”
And, how about those bangs?
President Barack Obama rendered his opinion on what he called the most significant event of inaugural weekend: his wife’s new haircut.
“I love her bangs. She looks good. She always looks good,” the president said Sunday night at a reception in Washington.
First lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new hair-do in a White House photo released Thursday, her 49th birthday.
Associated Press writers Josh Lederman, Alan Fram, Stacy A. Anderson, Kevin Freking and Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.