- - Monday, January 21, 2013

8:35 a.m. — President Obama and the first family leave the White House for the blocklong drive to St. John's Church across Lafayette Square for the first public event of his second inaugural celebration.

Mr. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and Mrs. Obama’s mother entered the church for the private service three hours before Mr. Obama was to take his place at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. Minutes later, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, his wife, Jill, and son Beau made their way into the church, stopping as did the Obamas to meet briefly with the Rev. Luis Leon, the St. John’s rector who delivered the inaugural benediction.

During the service, the Rev. Andy Stanley, pastor of the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., asked in his sermon what a person’s responsibilities are when he realizes he is the most important person at a gathering.

The cleric said it was that person’s responsibility to leverage that power in the service of others, according to The Associated Press.

Addressing Mr. Obama directly, Mr. Stanley said, “Mr. President, you have an awfully big room. It’s as big as our nation.”

9:38 a.m. — The president waves to the crowd but makes no remarks to a throng of admirers before getting back into the presidential limousine for the drive back to the White House.

9:45 a.m. — It doesn’t have the numbers or the history-breaking vibe of four years ago, but many in the crowd said they still found a special satisfaction in Mr. Obama’s second inaugural celebration. Zuri Murrell, a physician from Los Angeles, said he made a point of traveling to Washington this time after not attending four years ago.

“I still feel like it’s a historic event — I want my children to be a part of it,” he said.

10:10 a.m. — Not all in the crowd are in a festive mood. As the crowds file into the Mall on a cold January morning, they are handed pamphlets inviting them to the “Disinauguration Ball” in Arlington.

“Democracy, as the American founders described it, was like two wolves and a sheep deciding on what’s for dinner,” reads the invitation, complete with a “Not My President” banner across the top.

10:26 a.m. — Former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is among the throng of city residents and visitors filing into the center of Washington on a day on which even VIPs have to trek to enjoy festivities along the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. Sporting a cap of the D.C. United soccer team, Mr. Williams rides by subway to Metro Center and is complimented by a passer-by who said he did a “fine job” as mayor from 1999 to 2007, a time of transformation as the District of Columbia got its fiscal house in order.

10:31 a.m. — In another milestone for the day, Mr. Obama officially becomes the first president to tweet on his Inauguration Day.

“I’m honored and grateful that we have a chance to finish what we started. Our work begins today. Let’s go,” the presidential tweet released early Monday morning read. The message was signed “-bo” — the designation Mr. Obama uses when he composes the messages on his Twitter feed at @BarackObama.

10:44 a.m. — The congressional delegation filing into the stands where Mr. Obama is to deliver his second inaugural address included at least one lawmaker who had hoped to be in a better seat.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, was part of the bipartisan delegation in the temporary stands on the West Front of the Capitol. He was the Republican vice presidential nominee in the November election. Two other men who hoped for a different role also are part of the delegation — Sen. John F. Kerry, the failed Democratic nominee in 2004, and Sen. John McCain, who lost to Mr. Obama in 2008.

The audience includes two ex-presidents — Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who attended with his wife, retiring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

11:02 a.m. — Metro officials report that downtown travel Monday morning is significantly smoother than four years ago, with ridership at 266,000 as of 10 a.m. — just more than half of what it was on Mr. Obama’s first inaugural celebration in 2009. Several parking garages filled early. Metro officials by midmorning said no spaces were available at the Greenbelt, Fort Totten, Rhode Island Avenue, Vienna, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield and East Falls Church stations.

Checkpoints at the Capitol are jammed, and some visitors find themselves still blocked from the Mall viewing areas when Mr. Obama begins speaking.

11:22 a.m. — After dignitaries take their seats, Mr. Obama arrives at the West Front stand where he will publicly mark the beginning of his second term.

Mr. Obama is immediately preceded to the temporary stage by his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Mr. and Mrs. Biden are followed by the first lady.

The Obama women are all dressed in tasteful subdued tones, with the first lady wearing a navy, checkered-patterned coat and gray dress by designer Thom Browne. The rest of her Inauguration Day outfit included a belt from J.Crew, necklace by Cathy Waterman and a cardigan by Reed Krakoff, whose ensemble she also wore to Sunday’s intimate, indoor swearing-in ceremony, according to The Associated Press.

Malia had on a plum-colored J.Crew coat with the hemline of an electric-blue dress peeking out and a burgundy-colored scarf, and her younger sister, Sasha, had on a Kate Spade coat and dress in a purple shade.

11:49 a.m. — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administers the oath of office to Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

After administering the oath, Justice Sotomayor offers congratulations to the vice president. The justice, appointed by Mr. Obama and the first Hispanic woman to serve on the high court, receives a loud cheer when she is introduced. As with Mr. Obama, the oath is a public replay of the official ceremony held Sunday, as set out under the Constitution.

11:51 a.m. — Mr. Obama is sworn in for a second term on the West Front of the Capitol.

Unlike four years ago, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Mr. Obama perform the presidential oath of office nearly flawlessly, although the president appears to stumble slightly when saying “the United States.” The 2009 ceremony was marred by mistakes, requiring a private do-over the next day at the White House.

12:31 p.m. — Invoking a diverse nation living under a single sky, poet Richard Blanco delivers an inaugural poem intended to celebrate America’s diversity.

The 44-year-old poet invokes scenes from the hearth to the heavens, from the Appalachians to the Rockies in his unrhymed verse titled “One Today,” delivered just before pop superstar Beyonce leads the enthusiastic crowd in the singing of the national anthem. He also works in references to his own immigrant experience growing up as an exile from Fidel Castro’s Cuba in New York and Miami.

12:45 p.m. — Just minutes after completing his inaugural address, Mr. Obama signs a string of documents officially submitting some of his top personnel picks for his second term to Congress. The signing ceremony is a traditional Inauguration Day chore for the president, first established by President Reagan shortly after he took the oath of office.

Among the nominations Mr. Obama submits: John O. Brennan to be CIA director; former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense; Sen. John F. Kerry to be secretary of state; and Jack Lew to be secretary of the Treasury.

Seated at a table in the Capitol’s ornate President’s Room off the Senate chamber, Mr. Obama — some of whose nominations face tough sailing on Capitol Hill — joked, “I know they will be dealt with great dispatch.”

1:21 p.m. — Some in the crowd count themselves as disillusioned former supporters of the president. Beating plastic bucket drums and holding peace signs and black cloth flags, a group of about 40 protesters gather in McPherson Square as Mr. Obama is sworn in.

“We’re making it clear that there is nothing to celebrate,” said Brian, who would give only his first name, but is associated with the environmental group Earth First. “We’re trying to cut through this false idea that Obama has been good for the environment. That’s why we’re here today.”

2:59 p.m. — Mr. Obama wraps up the congressional luncheon in his honor in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, a bipartisan gathering marked by numerous toasts and gifts of hand-cut Lenox crystal vases for Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden. The president’s vase has his name and the date on it, while the vice president’s has the U.S. Capitol etched on it. The luncheon is a tradition dating back to the late 19th century.

In his own toast, Mr. Obama hails departing and incoming members of his Cabinet and the families of all officials and lawmakers who have make sacrifices in the name of public service.

3:15 p.m. — Standing on the East Front steps of the Capitol, Mr. Obama observes another Inauguration Day tradition: reviewing of the troops before heading back to the White House for the inaugural parade and round of evening celebratory balls.

4:16 p.m. — Mr. Obama and the first lady pass by city hall with enthusiastic waves from the back seat of their shiny limousine, but do not offer the grand acknowledgment that D.C. leaders may have hoped for.

Although the first couple delight the crowd by emerging from their car to walk the route for portions of the inaugural parade, Mr. Obama is seated on the right side of his limo away from the John A. Wilson Building while Mrs. Obama offers waves and two thumbs up to enthusiastic and screaming crowds in front of city hall.

The Obamas get out of their vehicle at about Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. A block later, the crowds begin chanting “Obama, Obama,” and reaching for the cellphones to record the moment.

4:20 p.m. — As the president, vice president and their families settle into the heated reviewing stand to watch the inaugural parade. Metro officials reveal that, as of 4 p.m. the D.C. transit system had carried 538,000 riders — two-thirds of the ridership in the same period on the day of Mr. Obama’s first inaugural celebration in 2009.

6:14 p.m. — The lengthy inaugural parade is still going strong, as the seat next to Mr. Obama in the reviewing stand is occupied by a rotating band of friends, supporters and allies. The president and first lady still have two inaugural balls at the nearby Washington Convention Center to attend before calling it a day.

8:45 p.m. — Mr. Obama addresses cheering crowds at the Commander in Chief Ball, speaking by video to thank a group of troops in southern Afghanistan. He then introduces his “date,” Mrs. Obama, who dances with her husband in a ruby chiffon and velvet gown while Jennifer Hudson sings “Let’s Stay Together.” Ms. Hudson reprises the same Al Green classic, an Obama favorite, at the Inauguration Ball about 40 minutes later.

• Washington Times reporters David Sherfinski, Tom Howell Jr., Stephen Dinan, Susan Crabtree, David Boyer and David R. Sands contributed to this diary.