Obama's inauguration: Faces in the crowd
- 21 January 2013
- From the section Magazine
Hundreds of thousands of people convened in Washington DC on Monday to watch President Barack Obama's second inauguration. The BBC spoke to some of them about their hopes and fears for his next term.
Though the second inauguration of Barack Obama won't break attendance records the way the first one did, it's still a major draw for national and international visitors. The swearing-in ceremony was just one part of a multi-day event that includes balls, a parade and lots of merchandise for sale.
The BBC spoke to some people on their way to the inauguration about what brought them to Washington, DC.
In 2008, Taylor and his wife took their four children to see Barack Obama be sworn in as the nation's first African-American president. This year, they're back - now with a fifth child in tow.
"We want her to have the experience," he said of their two-year-old. "Even though she's not going to remember anything, she'll have the pictures. When she has children, she can look back and say I was there."
At the moment, the two-year-old and her siblings are sprawled out on the corner of 18th and K, catching a brief snooze before heading through the security checkpoints.
They woke up at 04:30 to travel into the Capital, based in part on their experiences in 2008 when trains were overflowing.
"It's completely different already," says Taylor, who noted the much smaller crowds compared to the first inauguration.
"People were more friendly, too. It was like everyone was singing Kumbaya if you will. Today, there's not a lot of conversations."
Hailing from Kentucky, Taylor is aware of the problems President Obama faces in the next four years.
"I come from the state where we have the head honcho who seems like he's against everything," he said, referring to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. "Mr McConnell, for whatever reason, is intent on saying no."
"If you can't compromise, how can you solve anything?"
Ahawana and Amber Williams
Ahawana Williams took her daughter and her friends to see the inauguration - and on their way to the mall, they got a sneak peak of the president.
Standing at the barricade above St John's Episcopal Church, where President Obama attended morning services, the girls played with their mobile phones and joked about the cold.
But when the police officers moved everyone to the pavement in anticipation of the presidential motorcade, they snapped to attention, hoping to get a glimpse of Barack Obama and his family.
"I think it's really exciting, just to know that I get to see what happens when the president is sworn in," said Amber Williams, 12. "Just to have the possibility to even see the president is really cool."
Her mother wanted to make sure the girls saw the nation's first black president taking the oath of office. "Who knows if this will happen again in our lifetime," she said.
As for the next four years, Ahawana Williams has high hopes for the president. "America needs a big overhaul," she says.
What is it that needs fixing?
"Everything," she says.
Kirby MacIver and Yvonne Jones
This year, fewer revellers are decked out in patriotic outfits and Obama t-shirts. But Kirby MacIver still stuck out in the crowd thanks to his bright red Canada hockey jersey.
MacIver and his partner, Yvonne Jones, decided over Christmas to travel from St Albert, in the Canadian province of Alberta, to Washington DC to see the inauguration.
"Some people go on vacation and sit on a beach," he said. "There's people like us who like a little bit of history and for things to be a little more interesting."
Jones, a high-school social studies teacher and self-proclaimed "political junkie", said the choice to visit was an easy one.
"How could you not come to an inauguration?" she asked. She has collected buttons, newspapers and other souvenirs to take back to her students.
Still, they had low expectations going into the event.
"Whatever happens is awesome," said Jones.
Ricardo Campos came to the US at 13, and soon after applied for a green card.
Ten years later, he's still waiting. Campos travelled to Washington today to protest Obama's inaction on immigration. Walking down 18th Street on the way to the Mall, he led Casa de Maryland, an immigration-reform group, in a chant.
"What do we want?" he yelled to a group of 40 or so members. "Immigration reform!" the crowd yelled back.
"When do we want it?" he said. "Now!" they replied.
His voice hoarse, he promised to continue the chants through the inaugural celebration.
"Families are being torn apart, they are being separated unjustly," he said. "Latinas took him to the White House and we need to keep pushing."
Campos, who says some of his family members in the US are undocumented, said he's been advocating for immigration reform since Obama came into office.
"Latinos believe in him. He's in his second term because of minorities," he said.
In an ideal world, he said, Obama would take a comprehensive immigration reform bill to Congress tomorrow. But until that day comes, Campos will keep fighting.
The McGowan Family
While many participants at the inauguration spent the swearing-in ceremony crowded on the mall, straining to get a glimpse of the president, Vince McGowan and his son listened to the inaugural address over a public-address system in a Virginia parking lot.
As members of the New York-based United War Veterans Council, the McGowans will help represent New York State in the inaugural parade. That meant clearing a security check at the Pentagon and waiting for hours before the cue to start moving arrives.
The UWVC has put on the Veterans Day parade in New York City for years, and Vince McGowan said the opportunity to march in the inaugural parade was an important way to spread the word about veterans' rights - and to show some hometown pride.
They've arranged the timing so they'll be singing "New York, New York" as they pass the president.
"We're hoping that will get us a nice wave from him and we'll get some people singing along with us," says McGowan, who served in the Marines from 1964-68, including a tour in Vietnam.
Their float will have singers, flag bearers and representatives from every war since World War II - as well as photographs of members who were too frail to make the trip.
For Doug McGowan, 34, who served in the Marine Corps from 2000-04 and worked as a civilian contractor with the military until 2011, performing in front of the commander in chief is the "ultimate honour". But he also found something inspiring about spending much of the day at the Pentagon.
"This is the epicentre of where it all began in 2001," he said.
"To be brought down here at the culmination, as this all wraps up and the administration begins to focus more intently on returning veterans, it means the world to me."