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Obama Praises Peaceful Transition as Inauguration Celebrations Begin

President-elect Barack Obama praised the peaceful and orderly transition of power in his final radio address before Tuesday's inauguration, saying Americans should not take it for granted.

In the weekly Democratic radio address, President-elect Barack Obama looked forward to his own historic inauguration just four days away.

"On Tuesday, the world will be watching as America celebrates a rite that goes to the heart of our greatness as a nation. For the forty-third time, we will execute the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next," he said.

The soon-to-be first U.S. African-American president in history said since the first inauguration 220 years ago, the United States has undergone many changes. But he said the peaceful and orderly transition of power from one president to another, and at times from one political party to another, is a constant that should not be taken for granted.

"For us, it is easy to take this central aspect of our democracy for granted. But we must remember that our nation was founded at a time of kings and queens, and even today billions of people around the world cannot imagine their leaders giving up power without strife or bloodshed," he said.

Mr. Obama commended President Bush and his administration for all their cooperation and assistance in this time of transition.

The final leg of Mr. Obama's long journey to the White House is under way Saturday, with a day-long railroad trip from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C, retracing part of the route former President Abraham Lincoln took to his inauguration. The association with President Lincoln is meaningful to Mr. Obama, not just because both men came to Washington from Illinois, but also because Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the United States and is a hero to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle, and their two daughters Malia and Sasha are likely to be met by crowds of cheering fans along the 220-kilometer rail route.

Michelle is also celebrating her 45th birthday Saturday. The tour begins in Philadelphia, with the next stop in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Obamas will be joined by Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family. The next stop will be in Baltimore, Maryland, before the final stop in the nation's capital.

On Sunday, a huge crowd of a million people or more are expected to attend a free outdoor inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. It will feature performers including Bono, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen.