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by Delaney Windigo

Jan. 20, 2009 marked a new chapter in American history as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Over one million people gathered in Washington’s National Mall to celebrate the inauguration of the charismatic leader. Obama, the first African American president of the United States was inaugurated one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

People in Regina are optimistic about Obama being president, “I’m really excited,” said University of Regina student Kristine Martin. But reality is beginning to set in for other Obama supporters. “I was obviously very happy to watch it and cautiously optimistic for the future because he’s definitely got his work cut out for him,” said U of R student Samra Sahlu.

Meanwhile in Washington, the ceremonies began with Aretha Franklin singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” before Vice-President Joe Biden Jr. took the vice-presidential oath. Former presidents and several celebrities were also on hand for the monumental occasion. Upon dictating the presidential oath, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts misread the Constitution. However, President Obama paused for the error to be corrected before proceeding. Obama used President Lincoln’s Bible to take the oath, which Lincoln used during his first inauguration.

Whether it’s his celebrity that attracts most people or his charismatic appeal, people started gathering at the National Mall at about 2:30 am to get a glimpse of the new president. For those that could not be close, jumbo screens were set up.

During his inaugural speech Obama mentioned the problems that face America, “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,” he said. Several parts of his speech were met with cheers from the crowd.

One of the major issues he mentioned was the current economic crisis. “The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift,” he said.  “Those who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account.” 

“Starting today we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.” He also talked about the wars the United States are currently involved in. “We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard earned peace in Afghanistan,” he said. 

Though the road ahead for Obama will be rocky there is no doubt that America has come a long way with the inauguration of its first African American president, “A man whose father, less than 60 years ago, might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath,” said Obama.