The Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial is getting rave reviews. One estimate was that 600,000 attended to see the star-studded performances, from Mary J. Blige to Usher to Garth Brooks.
President-elect Barack Obama, the man of the hour, tapped his feet, danced a bit and sometimes sang along during the concert.
I was stationed in a press pen to the right of the platform built in front of the memorial, which allowed for a nice view of both the stage and the crowd along the Reflecting Pool, and some decent video of the performances.
Here’s Obama taking the stage before his speech.
After singing “Pride,” a tribute to Martin Luther King, U2’s Bono said with Obama’s election King’s dream has been realized.
He led the crowd in a chant of “Let freedom ring,” and said freedom is “Not just an American dream, also an Irish dream. a European dream, African dream, Israeli dream, and also, a Palestinian dream.”
Bono told Obama it was a “thrill” to be there, adding that the “four Irish boys from the North side of Dublin” wanted to say they were honored for him “choosing this song to be part of the soundtrack of your campaign.”
When performing “City of Blinding Lights,” Bono riffed a bit on the words, asking “America, let your hope rise on the Lincoln’s unblinking eyes” instead of singing about “a city lit by fireflies.”
This video captures the most energetic moment of the day - Garth Brooks brought down the house.
Here’s my story from the concert as Washington kicks off a historic celebration:
Commanding the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, President-elect Barack Obama on Sunday summoned the greatness of Martin Luther King and the sacrifices of the civil rights era as he tempered a celebratory throng of hundreds of thousands with a warning that tackling this generation’s problems will “test our resolve as a nation.”
Two days before stepping into the White House, Mr. Obama took his message to the heart of monumental Washington while paying tribute to America’s many heroes, from those who won World War II to former President Abraham Lincoln, whom he hailed as “the man who in so many ways made this day possible.”
Standing on the spot where King led a civil rights march 45 years ago, the president-elect recalled “the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character’s content.” And he implored Americans to use the same resolve to tackle today’s problems of war and economic crisis.
Read the full story here.
Today’s paper has tons of special coverage, so grab a hard copy if you can, but I’ll flag two extra-special items in honor of Martin Luther King.
First, King’s son has penned an exclusive essay for The Washington Times reflecting on his father’s dream, saying it has been realized with Obama’s election.
Even more exciting, the president-elect also has written a piece for The Washington Times. It’s featured prominently on our front page today, but here’s a preview.
On the day of the first inauguration to take place in this city, a small band of citizens gathered to watch Thomas Jefferson assume office. Our young and fragile democracy had barely finished a long and contentious election that tested our founding ideals, and there were those who feared our union might not endure.
It was a perilous moment. But Jefferson announced that while we may differ in opinion, we all share the same principles. “Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind,” he said, urging those assembled to begin anew the work of building a nation.
In the more than two centuries since, inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace, depression and prosperity. Beneath the unfinished dome of the Capitol, a young lawyer from Illinois swore an oath to defend the Constitution a divided nation threatened to tear apart. In an era of unprecedented crisis, an optimistic New Yorker refused to allow us to succumb to fear. In a time of great change, a young man from Massachusetts convinced us to think anew with regard to serving our fellow man.
You can read the full Obama essay here. It’s good, and he’s making us all look bad because he even got the piece in before the deadline.
For real U2 fans, this is the best musical clip. Listen for Bono giving a special shout out to Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
On another topic, please submit questions here for my debut chat on The Washington Times Web site. You can post questions now, and I will answer them Monday at noon.
— Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times
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