WASHINGTON-Neither icy temperatures nor religious protesters could disturb the palpable positive energy at the event.
After a two-year campaign riddled with opposition and mudslinging, the Barack Obama saga came to a peaceful and ceremonious observance. Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday.
Millions of travelers, some from as faraway as Nepal, were mixed in with the already diverse crowd of Americans of different races and faiths.
Elisha Karanja, 34, from Boston by way of Kenya, said he was very excited that the first black president was the son of a fellow Kenyan. He said there was elation among the people in his native country.
“I feel very proud to be a part of what’s happening not only in America, but in the world,” Karanja said.
Karanja said there is significance of Obama’s inauguration coming just a day after the country celebrates the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It means a fulfillment of the dream, those who study (King) can now see it’s manifestation.”
Daniel Meller, 21, an England native, said he was inspired to attend Barack’s inauguration by his election.
“The way he shows himself, he has strong character,” Meller said. “He speaks truth, he’s wise beyond his years; I have faith in the guy.”
Meller said he believes Obama’s presidency will have a positive effect on America’s relationships with other countries.
“There is still a lot of racism in the world and I think people will come together more because of this,” he said.
The profoundness of Obama’s presidency did not just break national barriers, the event stretched across generations.
Queen Slyke, 60, from New Jersey, calls Obama’s inauguration “a crowning glory.”
Slyke said growing up in the segregated town of Macon, Ga., it was hard for her to envision the nation’s first black president.
“My father used to say that some day America would elect a black president. I would say ‘Yeah Dad, but not in our lifetime,'” she said.
Slyke, who participated in protests, sit-ins and demonstrations at Tuskegee University, said the election of a black president meant her experience came full circle and the historic event was divinely guided.
During his inaugural address, Obama said, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.”