News / USA

    Obamas Dance at Inaugural Balls

    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance at the Commander in Chief's Ball in Washington, January 21, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance at the Commander in Chief's Ball in Washington, January 21, 2013.
    Kent KleinMark Snowiss

    With singer Jennifer Hudson crooning the ballad "Let's Stay Together," U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle took the spotlight at two inaugural balls in Washington Monday evening.

    Michelle Obama, wearing a red Jason Wu gown designed especially for the night, sang in her husband's ear as they danced.

    The balls, an inaugural day traditions, cap off two days of official ceremonies as President Obama begins his second term.

    Earlier, flag-waving crowds of hundreds of thousands of people turned out for inauguration ceremonies and celebrations of President Barack Obama's second term of office.

    Watch a related video report by VOA's Carolyn Presutti



    They and millions more Americans who watched and listened to broadcasts of Monday's events heard the president lay down a strong progressive agenda in his second inaugural address, demanding moderation from the conservative political opposition in Congress.

    Jubilation and cheers filled Washington's most famous boulevard, Pennsylvania Avenue, as Obama and his wife, Michelle, stepped out of their limousine to walk part of the traditional parade route that follows a Capitol inauguration. The parade was one of the highlights of the inauguration, with elaborate floats, marching bands from all 50 states.

    Watch: VOA's coverage of President Obama's second inauguration

    Just before noon, the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, led the president in the oath of office on a ceremonial stage outside the Capitol, the seat of the U.S. government. Seated nearby were congressional leaders, family members, celebrities and two former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

    U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief of Justice John Roberts, as first lady Michelle Obama looks on during inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013.U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief of Justice John Roberts, as first lady Michelle Obama looks on during inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013.
    x
    U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief of Justice John Roberts, as first lady Michelle Obama looks on during inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief of Justice John Roberts, as first lady Michelle Obama looks on during inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013.
    Obama and Vice President Joe Biden actually had been officially sworn into office on Sunday, since the U.S. Constitution mandates January 20 for the swearing in. So Monday was above all a day for public celebration and uplifting speeches. By coincidence it also was the annual U.S. holiday commemorating the renowned civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, who was assassinated in 1968, shortly after his 45th birthday.

    As the president was sworn in, he placed his hand on two Bibles - one that Abraham Lincoln used for his inauguration in 1861 and another that had been carried by King.

    Unlike Obama's first inauguration in 2009, when he and the chief justice stumbled over the words of the presidential oath, everything went smoothly this year.

    Equality and Opportunity

    The president's address that followed stressed some of the main themes of his 2012 re-election campaign - equality, and making the cherished national values of "life and liberty" a reality for every American.

    President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    x
    President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well, and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class," said Obama said in his 19-minute address.

    The president looked ahead to a future United States where all Americans - women as well as men, no matter what their sexual preferences - are treated equally under the law. He called on fellow citizens to put aside their political differences and work together to solve the country’s problems.

    “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect," he said.

    Obama called for a renewed commitment to social programs, education, technology and alternative energy sources, saying the United States needs to respond to the threat of climate change.

    Watch VOA's Deborah Block related Inaugural Parade report

    Thousands Attend Inaugural Parade to See President Obamai
    X
    January 22, 2013 3:54 PM
    Hundreds of thousands of supporters of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden clapped and cheered during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. VOA’s Deborah Block spoke to people watching the parade who were excited about the inauguration of the country's first African-American president to a second term.

    Implicitly criticizing Republicans and Mitt Romney, his opponent in the presidential race, Obama offered a robust defense of Medicare and Social Security, noting those programs "do not make us a nation of takers."

    The president said America will remain the anchor of strong alliances around the world, and will work to help democracy thrive.

    “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,” he said.

    • President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama waves as they walk down Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House during the Inauguration parade, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • The U.S. Army band marches down Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House during the Inaugural parade, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • President Barack Obama waves after his speech while Vice President Joe Biden applauds at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • President Barack Obama speaks at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • President Barack Obama, L, is sworn-in for a second term by Supreme Court Chief of Justice John Roberts, R, during his public inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013, while wife Michelle (L-R) and daughters Sasha and Malia look on.
    • Crowds of people gather on the mall to watch the swearing-in of U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, January 21, 2013.
    • Khongorzul Battsengel, left, and Ariunbolor Davaatsogt both from Mongolia, take a picture of themselves as they wait for President Barack Obama in the 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C., Jan. 21, 2013.
    • Spectators react on the National Mall during the 57th inauguration ceremonies for U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the West front of the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013.
    • Vice President Joe Biden, left and President Barack Obama wait for their ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • People cheer on the National Mall during the ceremonial swearing-in ceremonies of U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the West front of the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • A woman listens on the National Mall during the 57th inauguration ceremonies on the West front of the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • Spectators wave American flags on the National Mall in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, before the start of President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
    • Dr. Bernice King, center right, and Christine King Farris, left, the daughter and sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., applaud while watching a broadcast of President Barack Obama's inauguration following the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday commemorative service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • Members of the Lee University Festival Choir and PS 22 Chorus perform before the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • President Barack Obama's daughters Malia Obama, left, and Sasha Obama arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, for the president's ceremonial swearing-in.
    • President Barack Obama arrives at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton speak with former President Jimmy Carter at the ceremonial swearing-in for President Barack Obama at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.
    • President Barack Obama arrives on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, for his ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
    • Security lines Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, prior to the start of the 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade.
    • People wave at President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as their limousine passes Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington.
    • President Barack Obama and Democratic Senator from New York Chuck Schumer, the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, leave the White House on January 21, 2013 for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
    • President Barack Obama supporters wave American flags on the National Mall in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, prior to the start of the president's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

    US Inauguration Firsts and Facts

    2009 - President Obama: Largest attendance of any event in history of Washington
    2005 - President Bush: Largest inaugural platform to date
    1985 - President Reagan: Coldest inauguration day, -14 C at noon
    1981 - President Reagan: Warmest inauguration day, 13 C at noon
    1977 - President Carter: First president to walk in the inaugural parade
    1965 - President Johnson: First inauguration that used a bullet-proofed limousine
    1961 - President Kennedy: First time a poet, Robert Frost, participated
    1949 - President Truman: First televised inaugural ceremony
    Smaller Crowd

    Three popular American singers - James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce - and a choir sang patriotic songs during the ceremony, and a reading by a Cuban-American poet celebrated the day.

    The assembled crowd filled most of the National Mall, but still was only a fraction of the estimated 1.8 million people who jammed into that space four years ago for the inauguration of the first African-American president.

    The Obama and Biden families began the day by attending a service at a Christian church near the White House. A pastor offered a blessing and counseled the president to use his power for the good of the country.

    From the church Obama sent a message on Twitter: “I am honored and grateful that we have a chance to finish what we started. Our work begins today. Let us go.”
     
    Obama returned to the White House for a brief coffee reception for top congressional leaders, including the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Senator Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican minority in the Senate.

    Mark Snowiss

    Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: sirajo jalo from: Abidjan
    January 22, 2013 2:40 AM
    Today,we are much more confident that Obama's second will be better than his first,because of the experience he aquired in the first term.

    by: Anonymous
    January 22, 2013 2:08 AM
    a powerful U.S. beneficial to world democracy

    by: Juli Efendi from: Indonesia
    January 22, 2013 2:00 AM
    Congratulation for Obama.This is a Second period,so doing better with International studen exchange in the word to study in Amerika and All culture is welcome in Amerika.I hope Obama can make good reletionship with Indonesia especially for education and Scholarship for Indonesia Student to study in Amerika.

    by: CcyY
    January 21, 2013 9:44 PM
    Obama should be grateful to President Lincoln(Lincolon is the republican!) for his enaction of the 13th amendment and do something as Lincoln did to the "national unity". As for personal charm,i really like this guy.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.