The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 19, 2013

Inauguration weekend kicks off with day of service

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Saturday was heading up a National Day of Service, kicking off a whirlwind weekend of inauguration events that mark the end of his historic first term and the start of his second.

Obama added the day of service projects in 2009 and hopes it will become a tradition for future presidents. He and first lady Michelle Obama planned to volunteer in the Washington area, as did Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill.

The president will be officially sworn in for his second term on Sunday in a small ceremony at the White House. He'll take the oath of office again on Monday before hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall, followed by the traditional parade and formal balls.

Thousands of workers and volunteers were making final preparations for the celebration. Hotels and government buildings along the parade route were adorned with red, white and blue bunting. White tents, trailers and generators lined the Mall.

Yet there is decidedly less energy surrounding Obama's second inauguration than there was in 2009. That history-making event drew 1.8 million people for the swearing-in of the nation's first black president.

This time, Obama takes the oath of office following a bruising presidential campaign and four years of partisan fighting. He's more experienced in the ways of Washington. He has the gray hair and lower approval ratings to show for it.

For at least the inauguration weekend, the fiscal fights and legislative wrangling will be put aside in favor of pomp and circumstance.

The White House did not say in advance what Obama's service project would be. In 2009, he helped spruce up a shelter for homeless teens in one of Washington's porter neighborhoods then visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

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