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Barack Hussein Obama renewed his oath of office at midday Monday, ceremonially marking the beginning of another four years in the White House and calling for "fidelity to our founding principles" while also embracing "new responses to new challenges".
Crowds that were expected to reach 600,000 assembled on National Mall in front of the Capitol, eager to witness the start of the president's second term. Obama, 51, was formally sworn in during a small, private ceremony at the White House on Sunday, the date constitutionally mandated for inauguration.
Obama declared that the country was "made for this moment", but said the nation must confront the needs of a rising middle class. And he acknowledged that the often divisive and combative politics of today have sometimes fallen short of the size of the country's problems.
"For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said. "We must act; we must act knowing that our work will be imperfect."
Security in Washington was tight as Obama, the nation's first black president, delivered his second Inaugural Address from the Capitol just before noon. Speaking on the day the nation sets aside to honor the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Obama took his oath with his hand on two Bibles: one once owned by King and another once owned by Abraham Lincoln.
Calling it the current generation's task to carry on the quest for equality, Obama urged the nation to make sure that women were paid equally to men and that gay men and lesbians were treated equally under the law.
In a reference to the gun control debate that he has begun in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Obama said the country must confront the dangers to America's children.
And to the world's leaders, Obama pledged to be "forever vigilant against those who would do us harm." But he also said the country would show "the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully - not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear."
Former President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary
Former President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn
Senator John McCain
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan
FBI Director Robert Mueller
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
John Mayer and Katy Perry
James Taylor and wife Kim
There's nothing like an inauguration to send a tingle up the spines of history lovers and patriots. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies put together a comprehensive guide to all things inaugural. Here are some highlights, from past to present:
In 1793 in Philadelphia, George Washington delivers what remains to this day the shortest inaugural address - 135 words.
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first president inaugurated in Washington DC
In 1809, James Madison held the first inaugural ball. Tickets were $4.
In 1825, John Quincy Adams became the first president to wear long pants, instead of knee breeches, for his swearing-in.
In 1837, Martin Van Buren became the first president who was not born a British subject.
In 1865, at Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration, African-Americans participated in the inaugural parade for the first time.
In 1921, Warren G. Harding became the first president to ride to and from his inauguration in an automobile.
In 1929, Herbert C. Hoover's inauguration was the first recorded by talking newsreel.
In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president sworn in on January 20.
In 1949, Harry S. Truman's inauguration was the first to be televised.
In 1961, John F. Kennedy became the first - and so far the only - Roman Catholic sworn in as president.
In 1974, Gerald R. Ford became the first unelected vice president to be sworn in as president.
In 1997, Bill Clinton's inauguration was the first to be broadcast live on the Internet.
In 2005, for George W Bush's swearing-in, officials designed anti-counterfeiting security into the tickets for the first time.
In 2009, Barack Obama became not only the first African-American to be sworn in as president, but also the first to be born in Hawaii.