Atlanta well-represented during presidential inauguration

by: WSBTV.com<\/a> web staff Updated:

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WASHINGTON - Thousands of Atlantans made the trip to Washington, D.C., to be a part of the presidential inauguration, with some of them showing up 10 hours early to get a good spot for the event.

Channel 2's John Bachman went to Washington and talked to several people from metro Atlanta about why they went and what they went through to catch a glimpse of the president.

Security was a top concern Monday as thousands upon thousands of people filled the National Mall to watch Barack Obama be sworn in once again as president of the United States.

Forty Georgia state troopers traveled to Washington to help with the massive security effort, being sworn in as temporary Secret Service agents for the inauguration. They joined 2,000 officers from nearly 100 agencies across the country to help secure the presidential inauguration parade route.

An estimated 800,000 people crowded the National Mall area. Security checkpoints opened at 7 a.m.

Those checkpoints made it a long wait for some.

"We got here about 6:30 this morning and they said be patient, and that's what we've been doing," said Max Lipscomb of Stone Mountain.

"(We) stood in line for two hours, but we're so excited," said Helen Cummings of Atlanta. "I wouldn't trade this for nothing in the world."

Letitia Mobley and her 13-year-old daughter from southwest Atlanta told Bachman they stayed Sunday night in Maryland and got up very early Monday morning to make it in time for the president's oath.

"This is fabulous. We couldn't be here last time. Knew we wanted to make history this time," Mobley said.

One of the big themes that Bachman heard from all the people he interviewed Monday was how special it was that the inauguration fell on the Martin Luther King holiday.

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. The president also paused inside the Capitol Rotunda to gaze at a dark bronze statue of King.

"With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom," President Obama said during his speech.

Common ground will be tough to find, as the president addressed big issues in health care, immigration reform and taxes. But the theme of unity struck a chord with Atlantan Karen Parks.

"What I liked most about his speech is that he talked about a unified country. He said we are in this together," Parks told Bachman.

"Obama inspires hope for me. Hope for future, hope for the world," said Rita Lewis, of Jonesboro.

"America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands," Obama said during the inaugural address, which broke new ground by assigning gay rights a prominent place in the wider struggle for equality for all.

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," said the president, who waited until his campaign for re-election last year to announce his support for gay marriage.

In a unity plea to politicians and the nation at large, he called for "collective action" to confront challenges and said, "Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time -- but it does require us to act in our time."

Outside, the Inaugural Parade took shape, a reflection of American musicality and diversity that featured military units, floats and bands.

The Georgia State University marching band was one of those bands chosen to march in the parade.

Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane stood with local families as they watched the presidential motorcade go by.

From rooftops, steps and from behind barricades, thousands of people craned their necks to watch the president go by.

"I came from Georgia because it's a historic event. I felt like I had to be there this year," said Jeryn Turner of Atlanta.

Campaign volunteers and supporters who helped the president win in November were there celebrating the speech given just hours earlier.

"I do agree with that message. I think America is the greatest melting pot in the world," Obama supporter Darrell Pacheco told MacFarlane

MacFarlane said the crowd was noticeably smaller than 2009, saying a fraction of that crowd was seen along the parade route.

Despite the smaller crowd, it was still clear that people came from all over the country to be a part of the historical day.

"It's important for the people of the nation to know we stand behind this president. That's why we're here," Joshua Murfree told MacFarlane.

Inside the Capitol, a midday ceremonial luncheon was held honoring the president.

During that ceremony, Rep. John Lewis was also honored for having marched on Washington 50 years ago this year in the fight for civil rights.

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