On a day of renewal for democracy, everyone seemed to have an opinion, and many seemed eager to share it.
“I’m just thankful that we’ve got another four years of democracy that everyone can grow in,” said Wilbur Cole, 52, a postman from suburban Memphis, Tenn.
The inauguration this year shared the day with King’s birthday holiday, and the president used a Bible that had belonged to the civil rights leader for the swearing-in, along with a second one that had been Abraham Lincoln’s.
Others watching at a distance were less upbeat than Cole. Frank Pinto, 62, and an unemployed construction contractor, took in the inaugural events on television at a bar in Hartford, Conn. He said because of the president’s policies, “My grandkids will be in debt and their kids will be in debt.”
The tone was less overtly political in the nation’s capital, where bipartisanship was on the menu in the speechmaking and at the congressional lunch.
“Congratulations and Godspeed,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he presented them with flags that had flown atop the Capitol.
Outside, the Inaugural Parade took shape, a reflection of American musicality and diversity that featured military units, bands, floats, the Chinese American Community Center Folk Dance Troupe from Hockessin, Del., and the Isiserettes Drill & Drum Corps from Des Moines, Iowa.
The crowds were several rows deep along parts of the route, and security was intense. More than a dozen vehicles flanked the president’s limousine as it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue, and several agents walked alongside on foot.
As recent predecessors have, the president emerged from his car and walked several blocks on foot. His wife, Michelle, was with him, and the two held hands while acknowledging the cheers from well-wishers during two separate strolls along the route.