Part One: The Swearing-In Ceremony
US Capitol Building, West Front
Today was really exciting. And it was COLD!!!. Fortunately we had enough hand and toe warmers for us, and some left over for the Coast Guard guys who worked as ushers for hours in the cold without coats. We wore six layers of clothes. We put hand warmers on our heads inside our hats. We still froze.
But if there is one thing I've learned, it's that if you want a decent seat for an inaugural event, you have to get there early. There are no reserved seats--for anyone--except the President, Vice President, and their families. For everyone else--even Members of Congress--there are reserved sections. There might be thousands of seats in your section. You're either in the front or the back, depending on how early you are willing to get there.
This is even true for big celebrities. I saw Dustin Hoffman in the section beside us over two hours early, claiming his seat just like us. Other celebrities were disappointed when they arrived later and didn't have a seat at all!
We were really lucky because our US Senator, Bob Bennett, was the head of the entire inauguration. He gave us an amazing section to sit in. We were sitting with all of the Tuskeegee Airmen (WAY cool!) They were really nice and so proud to be there to see President Obama sworn in.
There were more than a million people on the Mall (the long grassy area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument) to try to see the inauguration. Some people who had tickets to see the inauguration up close didn't get in because the security machines didn't work. It was sad that thousands of people came to DC from all over the country and didn't get in to the swearing in. But lots of people did. And it was a great show.
The Swearing-In ceremony started with a prayer and a couple of musical numbers by people like Aretha Franklin and YoYo Ma. Then the Vice President was sworn in.
The President is supposed to take the oath of office at exactly 12 Noon. This time, the oath was given a few minutes late. It was exciting when it finally happened, though.
Our seats were way up at the front on the capitol steps. But we could hear the people all the way down the mall by the Washington Monument cheering and shouting "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" In the picture to the left, President Obama is standing with his family to take the oath of office.
In this picture, President Obama, his wife Michelle (in the yellow dress) and his daughters Sasha (in the orange dress) and Malia (in blue on the right--you can see her face over the rail) are waving to the crowd after he was sworn in as our 44th President. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, (who gave the oath to President Obama) is standing between Malia and Sasha.
Then the President gave his inaugural address. He talked about hope and courage. He told people all around the world that America wants to be their friend and that they should expect good leadership from their own governments. He also warned people who wanted to hurt us, like terrorists, that if they do something against us, we WILL fight back.
After President Obama's speech, there was a poem read and another prayer. When the inauguration ended, we hurried back to the Merkle's house so that we could get to the parade really fast so that we didn't get locked out.
TRIVIA: Until 1937, the Vice President took his oath of office in a "separate and distinct" ceremony from the Presidential Inauguration and was sworn in inside the Senate Chamber just prior to the President's more public Swearing In ceremony on the East Front of the Capitol (before 1981) or the West Front of the Capitol (since 1981).
TRIVIA: When the President's oath is running past 12 Noon (like it often does, and did this year) the clocks at the Capitol are stopped so that the requirement of a Noon oath can be "met".