Obama's Day Begins With Church Service

President Barack Obama started his day by attending a service at St. John Episcopal Church, a block from the White House. Following that, he met with President Bush at the White House. After his inauguration, Obama had lunch with congressional leaders and made his way in a motorcade to his new home.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. A couple of miles of people stretched across the Washington Mall today as President Barack Obama gave his inaugural address. Throughout our program, we're hearing voices from among the crowd.

Mr. MAURICE BUTLER(ph) (Washington, D.C.): He had one line where he said, you know, we will defeat you. I mean, he's not a - you know, he's a nice guy for hope, and you know, we love him, but he still wants to have the backbone to say, you know, we will defeat you.

Mr. GEORGE ROWLANDS(ph) (Fairfax, Virginia): I like his phrase, the patchwork of America, which represents everybody in this country and that we got to stand up. We got to pick ourselves up and do something about this economy. So that stuck with me.

BLOCK: That's Maurice Butler of Washington, D.C. and George Rowlands of Fairfax, Virginia. In a moment, we'll hear from more people who poured onto the National Mall. First, here's NPR's Don Gonyea on the inaugural address and the day in Washington.

DON GONYEA: The day started with reflection. It's one of the rituals that plays out on Inauguration day. The new president attends a service at St. John's Episcopal Church, just one block from the front door of the White House. That was followed by another ritual, a White House visit with President Bush who rode with his guest in a car to the Inauguration at the Capitol.

(Soundbite of music band)

GONYEA: The crowd that stretched the entire length of the National Mall roared when the president-elect made his entrance on the West Front of the Capitol just before 11:30. Then the program began with a prayer by a controversial choice, evangelist Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California, whose presence was criticized for his strong opposition to gay rights.

(Soundbite of prayer service)

Pastor RICK WARREN (Saddleback Church): May we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes even when we differ.

GONYEA: Just after noon, the oath of office was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. It was the first time Roberts has played this role at an inauguration and he stumbled over the words of the oath.

Mr. JOHN ROBERTS (Chief Justice): That I will execute the Office of President to the United States faithfully.

GONYEA: Obama paused, Roberts restated the line correctly and the oath continued. The crowd roared its approval of the history-making moment, the new president kissed his wife, his two daughters before stepping up to the lectern.

(Soundbite of inaugural speech)

President BARACK OBAMA: That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

GONYEA: He said they will not be met easily or in a short period of time.

(Soundbite of inaugural speech)

President OBAMA: But know this, America, they will be met.

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: The president called for bold and swift action on the economy. He promised to create new jobs rebuilding the infrastructure, to use technology to develop a new energy economy and to modernize the healthcare system and lower costs.

(Soundbite of inaugural speech)

President OBAMA: Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.

GONYEA: The new president spoke of America's position in the world, again, looking to an end to the Iraq war and to a peace in Afghanistan, and in taking on the threat posed by terrorism, he said he rejects as false the choice between our safety and our ideals as a nation. At the end of the speech, Mr. Obama addressed his race. His mother was white, his father from Kenya. He looked out over the crowd on the Mall. He spoke of the promise of the country, how challenges are met through hard work and honesty and fair play and patriotism.

(Soundbite of inaugural speech)

President OBAMA: This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

GONYEA: Then it was a luncheon with congressional leaders and a slow-rolling and walking tour of Pennsylvania Avenue and the crowds that were still waiting to watch the Inaugural parade roll by. Tonight, the new president and first lady are to attend each of the Inaugural balls; there were 10 on the schedule, as of yesterday. And tomorrow, the work of this White House will be underway in earnest. Mr. Obama will meet with military advisors at the White House. The topic - how to end the Iraq war? At the same time, administration officials including the president will be working with Congress on the $825 billion economic stimulus package. If the new chief executive is to have a political honeymoon, it will have to be a working one. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

BLOCK: And one of President Obama's first official acts today: the White House issued an order to halt all pending regulations until his administration can review them.

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