LIANE HANSEN, Host:
You could call it the final 137 miles of the presidential campaign. President-elect Barack Obama and his family boarded a train in Philadelphia yesterday and headed south toward Washington, D.C. The train made stops for rallies in Wilmington, Delaware and Baltimore, Maryland, and arrived, last night, in the nation's capital where inaugural activities and parties are already in full swing. NPR's Don Gonyea was on board.
DON GONYEA: There was no shortage of symbolism along the way, including the first stop - Philadelphia, the place where America's Founding Fathers gathered, where historic Independence Hall stands not far from the train station where Mr. Obama spoke before boarding the train.
BARACK OBAMA: What's required is a new declaration of independence. Not just in our nation, but in our own lives. Independence from ideology and small thinking. Independence from prejudice and bigotry. Independence from selfishness. An appeal not to our easy instincts, but to our better angels.
GONYEA: The train's first official stop was Wilmington, Delaware. That's where Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill joined up. They and the Obamas headed off to a rally just outside the station. There was a crowd of nearly 8,000. Biden, who represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years, was the sentimental favorite.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
GONYEA: Biden's remarks were mostly personal, but he, too, talked of the challenges the new Obama administration will face.
JOE BIDEN: Our economy is struggling. We're a nation at war. Sometimes, just sometimes it's hard to believe that we'll see the spring again. But I tell you spring is on the way with this new administration.
GONYEA: Unidentified Group: (Singing) Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you.
GONYEA: That was just before the train made its final stop of the day - a big, campaign-style rally with 40,000 shivering people outdoors at the War Memorial in downtown Baltimore. Here, the president-elect again asked people of all backgrounds, of all beliefs to work together for a larger cause.
OBAMA: No matter what we look like, no matter where we come from, no matter what faith we practice, we are a people of common hope, a people of common dreams, who ask only that was promised us as Americans, that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did, that that promise is fulfilled.
GONYEA: Less than two hours later, the train pulled in to Washington where, day after tomorrow, Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States. Don Gonyea, NPR News.
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