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With a crowd of millions watching, Barack Obama was sworn in Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States.
Lancaster County Council chairman Fred Thomas was watching the inauguration unfold on his television in Lancaster, but was getting a first-hand account from his nephew in Washington, D.C.
Adrian Mood, a senior at Howard University, was one of the millions of people standing at the National Mall. He called his uncle periodically as he watched Obama take the oath of office.
“He’s on the mall in the middle of all those people,” Thomas said. “It’s wonderful to have a young man, a family member, who is able to watch history happen before his eyes.”
Thomas said it was incredible to watch the transfer of power between the old and new presidents. He said the United States is one of the few places in the world that can transfer power “so peacefully and professionally.”
“I’m incredibly excited on a number of levels and for a number of reasons,” Thomas said. “What we’re watching now, decades from now students will be studying this in history books.”
Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis was originally going to watch the inauguration with others at the county building, but his office closed Tuesday due to snowy weather. He said people have been excited about the event and will probably pay more attention to the new president’s speech than they have during other inaugurations.
“A lot of folks have been interested in this,” Willis said. “The uniqueness of this seems to have attracted a lot of attention.”
Between one and two million people watched the inauguration in the area between the Capitol, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. There was space for more than 280,000 people in the secure zone around the Capitol and 28,000 on the Capitol grounds. Large television screens were also set up around the National Mall so spectators could watch.
“I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors,” said Obama during his speech. “Today, I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.”
The new president addressed many topics, including his desire to fix the declining economy, create new jobs, lower health-care costs, develop new technology and foster education. He also said he will work to pull American forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old.
“These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility,” he said.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at email@example.com or at (803) 416-8416