Obama’s historic day, minute by minute

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Barack Obama began Tuesday as a husband, father and man whose election lifted up the hopes of millions; at noon he became the 44th president, offered a somber characterization of the path ahead and was soon confronted with a close friend’s health scare.

The hours of President Obama’s Inauguration Day were filled with pomp, beginning before dawn when thousands flocked to the National Mall to witness the historic swearing-in of the nation’s first black commander in chief.

But not long after he struck a serious tone by saying this generation must carry forth freedom as a gift to the next one, Mr. Obama was forced to offer a serious prayer for his ailing friend Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who suffered a seizure during a congressional luncheon and was rushed to the hospital.

No matter what Mr. Obama faces Wednesday, Inauguration Day was his time to shine.

Dawn came early

Mr. Obama ended his public day at 10:05 Monday evening, returning to his temporary housing at the Blair House on the north end of the White House complex.

The Democrat is known to be a night owl who sometimes tinkered with important speeches at the last minute, so it’s unlikely he went to sleep right away.

If history is any indicator, Mr. Obama did a morning workout. He has been known to rise as early as 6 a.m. to hit the gym, something he does daily.

Meanwhile, revelers awoke before dawn to secure places amid the capital’s museums and monuments, braving single-digit wind chill and long lines, and knowing their view of the ceremony would be on a large video screen.

Many got into position wearing layers of clothing without having gone to sleep the night before, attending parties and walking the streets to get the best spot.

Waiting for Mr. Obama to emerge from Blair House, a member of his motorcade security detail was putting a finishing polish on one of the support sport utility vehicles that would join the incoming president.

Leaving no detail to chance, one limo tested its blue and red flasher lights. D.C. police officers used their cell phone cameras to take photos of them in front of one limo.

Mr. Obama’s public day began when he left Blair House at 8:46 a.m., wearing a black suit and red tie with a white pattern and holding open the door to his limo for wife Michelle.

A few minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Obama were greeted by the Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St. John’s Church, where they would participate in an Inauguration Day prayer service.

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About the Author

Christina Bellantoni

Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...

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