Two days from the White House, President-elect Barack Obama joined a vast throng today (Jan. 18) at a roaring, rollicking pre-inauguration celebration staged before marble monuments to past heroes. “Anything is possible in America,” declared the man who will confront economic crisis and two wars when he takes office.
“Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure — that the dream of our founders will live on in our time,” the president-elect said at the conclusion of a musical extravaganza that featured U2, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and other stars.
Obama and his family held the seats of honor at the event, and a crowd of tens of thousands spilled from the base of the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument several blocks away in the cold, gray afternoon of mid-January.
For the most part, the program was a festival of music, the songs chosen to make their points. Mary J. Blige sang “Lean on Me,” Springsteen performed “The Rising,” and Obama mouthed the words as 89-year-old Pete Seeger pitched in with “This Land Is Your Land.”
Many in the crowd sang along with Beyonce’s soulful finale, “America the Beautiful.” The show also featured performances by James Taylor with John Legend and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow and will.i.am with Herbie Hancock and U2, who performed “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “City of Blinding Lights.”
In film clips at earlier moments, Obama was cast as heir to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and even Lincoln, who the president-elect said was “the man who in so many ways made this day possible.”
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