US prepares for Obama inauguration

President-elect urges Americans to unite as millions gather for swearing-in ceremony.

    Obama took part in community projects as the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr's birth [Reuters]

    Obama began his day with a visit to the Walter Reed Medical Centre for the treatment of wounded US troops before joining a community renovation project in the capital.

    At one point, at a shelter for homeless teenagers, Obama took off his jacket and helped as workers painted a wall.

    Later he attend a number of dinners honouring champions of political bipartisanship including John McCain, the defeated Republican candidate for the presidency; Colin Powell, a former secretary of state; and Joe Biden, the vice-president-elect.

    Restoring trust

    In depth

    Focus

    Twitter: Live inauguration updates
    Obama 'no Martin Luther King'
    Inauguration guide 

    Videos
    Civil rights activist celebrates

    Playing for president Obama

    Afghans pin hope on Obama

    Your Views
    Send your message to Obama
    Send us your video views
    Aides have said that in his inaugural address, Obama would call for a spirit of national sacrifice amid an economic recession as well as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

    "We hear from his aides, and the president-elect himself, that the themes of restoring trust and public confidence in government are going to be prominent," Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds, reporting from Washington, said.

    "The inaugural address is sometimes a harbinger, sometimes it sets the tone for an entire administration."

    Up to two million people are expected to make their way to Washington for the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade.

    "I'm 41 and I've never experienced anything this big," Keith Smith, a Washington resident and city employee, said.

    "There is a whole lot of energy and excitement in the atmosphere - it takes our mind off the bad economy and job losses."

    'Bloodless revolution'

    Torrey Pocock, a self-confessed Republican voter, said he was in Washington to witness a festival of democracy.

    Americans were travelling from across the US to attend the inauguration [AFP]
    "For the country, given its past history [of racism], to put its trust in an African-American president is an incredible thing," he said.

    "This is an opportunity to see a bloodless revolution, a opportunity to completely change regimes."

    On Sunday, Obama delivered a speech before the statue of Abraham Lincoln, another preisdent who hailed from Ilinois, on the same steps where King made his I Have A Dream speech.

    That address became one of the most famous speeches in US history.

    A number of stars including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder performed during Sunday's events.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?